The debate has raged in F1 for decades over what matters more? The driver or the car? Lewis Hamilton fans believe he won his 6 titles with Mercedes due to him being a better driver than the rest of the field, whilst others would argue he had the car with the biggest advantage in F1 history.
Mercedes of course won 8 straight constructors’ titles, a feat never before seen in Formula 1. In fact only three teams have ever won 4 or more consecutive titles. McLaren in the Senna/Prost era managed 4, Ferrari with Schumacher had a haul of 6 on the bounce and most recently Red Bull and Vettel managed to win the last 4 of the V8 era.
Read into this what you will, but F1’s prototype formula does mean the car is more important than the driver.
Toto Wolff is hardly a self deprecating character and at times has demonstrated more than questionable sportsmanship. Most recently obvious in his demands the FIA sack their race director Michael Massi because Wolff believes his decisions in the 2021 title decider were biased against his racer.
So surprisingly speaking to Austrian outlet oe24, the Mercedes boss revealed he believed Max Verstappen won his 2021 title in a ‘slower car’. “Last year Max drove a worse car to the maximum and won the title. Now he has the fastest car, everything is easier for him, the pendulum is swinging in his favour.”
And before we get anal about the Austrian’s grasp of English and semantics, his point is clear, Max now has the fastest car, so clearly he didn’t when he won his title.
Despite his champion driver’s woeful start to the season, Toto is bullish stating;
“WE’VE NOT WRITTEN OFF THE TITLE, NOT AT ALL. WE’RE ONLY IN THE FIFTH RACE, YOU CAN’T WRITE ANYTHING OFF YET, IT CAN SWING IN OUR DIRECTION AGAIN.”
This is clearly at odds with Lewis Hamilton’s view of his predicament. “We’re obviously not fighting for this championship,” the Brit told Sky Sports television after finishing 14th in a Saturday sprint that set the starting grid for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
His position deteriorated further in Miami as he finished 6th Behind his team mate again and Mercedes scoring less points than the leading constructors of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Whilst Toto may have inadvertently revealed Max Verstappen had a slower car than Lewis in 2021 as he tried to make the point everything is easier for the Dutchman this year, it is in interesting addition to the debate about the car? The driver?
Who matters more?
More interestingly is the lack of consensus in Mercedes over where their aspirations should be this year. Hamilton has written it off whilst his boss believes there is yet hope.