Mercedes bosses give an ultimatum: if no improvement is seen in the next two Formula 1 Grands Prix, they will give significant help to Aston Martin, focusing instead on the customer team, away from the works Mercedes team of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Mercedes is prepared to help its client team Aston Martin compete with Red Bull Racing for the championship if it is unable to do so itself.
Hamilton was humiliated by a “customer car”
To everyone’s surprise, the Aston Martin team took the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix thanks to Fernando Alonso’s third place. Lawrence Stroll’s team overtook the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at the start of the season, whereas the gap was enormous last year. And Damon Hill can’t believe it when asked during the Grand Prix weekend.
The first Grand Prix of the season was an incredible surprise. Aston Martin, which was lagging behind last season, impressed against Mercedes in Bahrain. Fernando Alonso finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, while Lance Stroll finished ahead of the young British driver and just behind the seven-time world champion.
It was a successful gamble for team owner Lawrence Stroll, who had been reviled when he decided to buy Aston Martin. Former driver Damon Hill praised the billionaire for “proving everyone wrong”.
Aston Martin, “a top team” for Hill
“Max (Verstappen) has been talking about wins for Alonso but I think that might be going a bit too far. They’ve already exceeded everyone’s expectations, they’ve exceeded mine and they’ve probably exceeded theirs, so they’re very, very happy at the moment.
“Lawrence Stroll has put his money where his mouth is and he’s put this team together thinking it’s a future top team. Everybody told him ‘Lawrence, you know you’re going to lose a lot of money’. But he proved everyone wrong. He’s put this team together, he’s recruited heavily, he’s built a factory.
They’ve got Dan Fallows, who’s an ex-Red Bull and he knows more than a thing or two about what Red Bull does,” Damon Hill praised.
Mercedes beaten by “a customer car”
“Now that’s a great performance and they’ve actually eclipsed the Mercedes team. Poor Lewis Hamilton and poor George Russell. It was a race that Toto Wolff described as his worst day in motor racing. They were humiliated, they were beaten by a customer car,” added Damon Hill about Aston Martin.
Ultimatum: Improve in two races….
Indeed the situation has not gone unnoticed by the board of Mercedes, the German bosses have given Toto Wolff and his team two races to improve their competitiveness. If that doesn’t happen in Jeddah and Melbourne, Mercedes’ will be told to send their best engines to Aston Martin rather than to the factory team.
It should be noted that although it is accepted that Mercedes customers are supposed to receive the same powertrains as the factory team, in reality they are not exactly the same because of the specifics of the production process.
There are differences that fall within a certain tolerance. After production, each engine is tested and the ones that are closest to the standard are installed in Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s cars.
As an example, the Spanish newspaper The Objective reported that during the recent tests in Bahrain, the engine in the seven-time world champion’s car was about four horsepower more powerful than Fernando Alonso’s, even though they both had the same specification.