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Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

02/05/2024

Despite past dominance, Mercedes F1 is now seen as only partially a top team, according to Lando Norris and Ralf Schumacher. The team’s decline is marked by recent performance struggles.

Mercedes F1 can only “partially” claim to still be a genuine “top team” in Formula 1, according to Lando Norris and former driver Ralf Schumacher.

The German brand completely dominated the sport throughout the first “hybrid” regulation era from 2014 to 2021.

Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

But since the W13, the team no longer knows how to evolve its cars to move back to the front of the grid.

“If you look at how dominant Mercedes has been in the past, you would have expected more from them. So I say ‘no longer entirely’ to your question,” declares Lando Norris when asked if they are still a top team in his view.

“Especially when you see how in recent years, they have said, ‘Ah, now we understand,’ and they never seem to manage to find the problem.”

“We’ve had this at McLaren, we’ve faced other hurdles, so I know it’s tricky. But they were almost more competitive last year than today, and you wouldn’t expect that from them. But it shows how complex this sport can be.”

However, three consecutive seasons of subpar performances in the current ground effect rules era have now cost Mercedes good results and the services of Lewis Hamilton, who will join Ferrari starting in 2025.

However, Ralf Schumacher stated that “the Hamilton crisis” was not entirely Mercedes’ fault.

Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

“Obviously, he’s no longer the youngest,” said the former Williams and Toyota driver, “and it shows. Like many older drivers, he no longer seems to engage with the car and adapt his driving style.”

Schumacher believes that Hamilton’s departure might even benefit Mercedes.

“As the saying goes, a new broom sweeps clean. It seems some confidence was lost over time, but now we’ll see who gets that cockpit.”

Kimi Antonelli tested the 2022 Mercedes at Imola this week – which was the first with ground effect. But Max Verstappen remains Toto Wolff’s priority, despite the current level of Mercedes F1.

“Only partly,” said Schumacher when asked if Mercedes was still a top team.

“They have one of the best, if not the best, engines in Formula 1. Yet, they are unable to win because there are problems in other areas like aerodynamics. That’s why their customer teams like McLaren are currently beating them.”

“It’s not the fault of Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius. It’s Toto Wolff’s responsibility to make sure everything works.”

Mercedes will unveil its first upgrades this weekend in Miami, but even Wolff doesn’t seem very optimistic.

“We really don’t know what to expect because the season has been tough so far,” he said at a promotional event in New York. “Let’s see what the stopwatch says.”

When asked if it was too early to write off Mercedes for the 2024 and 2025 championships, Schumacher responded, “It will become clear when the team tests the first improvements to the car in Miami.”

“But gradually, you lose confidence in the fact that they really know what they’re doing. It starts with the development of the car, but it also involves race strategy and other things.”

“Mercedes is in a very critical situation. We have often seen dominant teams stray and not be able to find their way back.”

As for seeing Verstappen in a Mercedes F1 car in 2025 or 2026, Ralf is waiting to see.

“It depends on the evolution of the power struggle at Red Bull but Mercedes remains an interesting alternative and perhaps the best.”

“Toto Wolff can offer him a princely salary, but also lucrative contracts for the rest of his career. The Mercedes engine also helps, but the immediate sporting prospects will be even more important for Verstappen.”

Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender. Norris Claims Mercedes F1 No Longer Elite Contender

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