Who slept the worst last night: Toto Wolff

Andy Cowell (right) left Toto Wolff’s team in the summer of 2020


Dear readers,

the golden years of the silver arrows seem to be over in Formula 1.

Since 2014, Mercedes has had the recognized best engine. I still remember being a guest at Mercedes in Brixworth in 2013, and long before the first race was run with the new hybrid engines, the team was completely convinced that they had the right engine for the new era of Formula 1 Has.

That was the case. For eight years there was no herb against Mercedes, they won the constructors’ championship eight times in a row. And in the wake of the work teams, customer teams like Williams and Force India also swung to top performance with Mercedes power.

But in 2022, a new era dawns with new rules in Formula 1, and it looks like bringing new winners to light. Ferrari may suddenly win races again, and Red Bull does not notice the traces of the World Cup duel in 2021, as many expected.

Mercedes for that.

Only number 3: Is Helmut Marko right?

Helmut Marko says that Mercedes only has the third best engine. That would not be surprising. After so many years of success, every wave crashes. Mercedes has been driving it long enough and successfully mastered many wobbles before falling off the board.

If my prediction that the golden Mercedes years are over were to come true, the historic review of a glorious era will begin over the next few weeks. And in my opinion, one date can not be avoided: July 1, 2020.

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It’s the day Andy Cowell, the longtime manager of the Mercedes engine workshop in Brixworth, resigned from his Formula One job and handed it over to his successor, Hywel Thomas.

I asked Toto Wolff a pretty simple question on Sunday night after the race in Saudi Arabia. First, do you really only have the third best engine left, and second, how useful would it be to have someone with Andy Cowell’s experience on the team now?

Of course, one could also have asked whether the weak engine is a direct result of the Cowell departure in the summer of 2020; but it would not have received an answer, for Wolff would have indirectly publicly discredited and criticized Cowell’s successor Hywel Thomas with a yes, and that it would not happen, it was clear to me in advance.

Instead, my countryman sought refuge in diplomatic standing judgments. It is now important not only to point the finger at the individual areas of the car. You contract, and the deficit you have is “greater than an engine deficit”.

What he did not say: that the assumption that the Mercedes engine is only number 3 in the field is wrong – and that it has absolutely nothing to do with Andy Cowell’s departure.

Not surprisingly, Mercedes is now beginning to feel the effects of the departure of some great employees. Cowell is not the only one who has left Brixworth in recent months.

Exodus: How Mercedes bleed dry in Brixworth

Ben Hodgkinson, for example, is the lead engineer for an entire group of engine engineers leaving Mercedes for Red Bull Powertrains. He starts at his new employer on May 24th. Other names known to follow him include Steve Blewett, Omid Mostaghimi, Pip Clode, Anton Mayo and Steve Brodie.

Schumacher & Roos supports changes to the rules

Sky expert Ralf Schumacher & commentator Sascha Roos support the changes to the rules (video length: 24 seconds).

It’s all bitter for Lewis Hamilton. You do not have to like him to feel sorry for him. First, an at least dubious decision by Michael Masi in Abu Dhabi stole his eighth world title, which seemed within reach, and a few weeks later, his team’s sporting fall was so deep that the Schumacher record was far away.

Hamilton has by no means given up hope that Mercedes will get back on its feet. By the way, Wolff does not do that either. And even I think Mercedes should not be written off yet.

But the reality is: the W13 as a package is currently somewhere between 0.6 and 0.9 seconds slower than the F1 top, and although Mercedes should catch up with a bang of technology, assuming Ferrari and If Red Bull do not big steps at the same time, it will take at least weeks, if not months, before Hamilton can win races on his own.

By then, however, the World Cup train will probably be long gone, and until Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of 2023, he has only one more attempt to beat Michael Schumacher’s record through time.

Maybe it’s good for Formula 1’s history if two drivers with seven titles each share the record. It would not do Michael Schumacher’s life’s work justice if his record did not even last for two decades.


Christian Nimmervoll

Notice: It is in the nature of things that this column reflects my subjective perception. If you have another opinion, please feel free to discuss it with me, namely on my Facebook page “Formula 1 with Christian Nimmervoll”. There are not primarily “Breaking News” from the Grand Prix circus, but above all classifications of the most important developments behind the scenes.

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