Saturday, March 24, 2018

Engine Blood Ranks The 2018 Contenders: 10. Stupid Mercedes. So stupid.

HISTORY: Three histories here, really - the classic Silver Arrows years that partially pre-date Formula One itself, engine supplier to first Sauber, then McLaren, and finally buying the then-world champions Brawn to turn into their own team.

Brawn, you say?  Formerly Honda, formerly BAR, formerly Tyrrell.  When Honda used the 2008 financial crash to jettison their F1 team (along with BMW and Toyota), Ross Brawn carried the team on, invented the double diffuser and took the team from last the previous year to first in 2009.

Mercedes' stint from 2010 was patchy, despite the return of Michael Schumacher, before bursting to life when they hit the ground running with the controversial new technical specs in 2014.  Quite frankly, they have dominated ever since.


From BBC Sport.
Doesn't look too different to last year's winning affair, except for some pointy detailing on the rear wing that is also carried by Ferrari, Red Bull and Sauber.  If it works, expect all the other teams to be rocking them by Azerbaijan.


44. Lewis HAMILTON (GB)
77. Valtteri BOTTAS (FIN)

Where do we start with Lewis?  Equally fast and frustrating, scintillating and smug, rapid and repugnant, pacey and punchable.  He doesn't like it up 'im, and he'll fall to bits if threatened by someone in an equal machine, especially a teammate, but when the muse moves him and he's in the best car, he's off into the distance.

Between his posturing, his social media idiocy (don't mention the transphobia!), his R 'n' B album, his playing of the race card and his constant references to Ayrton Senna, he is the Hollywood Hogan of F1 - dominant, devious and unshakeable in his belief that he's bigger than the sport.  We'll never say he's not good.  Just that we really, really don't like him.

Bottas, on the other hand...  He's Rubens Barrichello, version 3.  After Hamilton's dummy hit the floor when Rosberg smartly pipped him to the 2016 title, then (in a spectacularly smug move) retired from Formula One to avoid getting soundly decked by Hamilton and Vettel the next year, Bottas moved to Mercedes from Williams.

His job is to come second, unless Hamilton is out.  That seems very unambitious for a Finnish driver, and atypical of the usual "all or nothing" mindset of his countrymen in motorsport.

LAST YEAR: 1st in Constructors' Championship, 668 points.

44. Lewis HAMILTON (GB) - 1st, 363 points, best finish: 1st (China, Spain, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Japan, America).
77. Valtteri BOTTAS (FIN) - 3rd, 205 points, best finish: 1st (Russia, Austria, Abu Dhabi).

Hamilton's fourth world title was based on an extremely good run just after the halfway point of the season, at the Asian circuits that many (rightly) believed would better suit Ferrari, and at which Ferrari had a terrible run of luck and accidents.

Still, you've got to be in it to win it, and in it he most certainly was, especially after an early-season wobble when he thought Bottas might be another title contender; something that, in hindsight, he really, really wasn't.  Any hope of extending his Mercedes career must be based on a real year of contendership this year - or Ricciardo would seem to be nailed on for the seat.

PROSPECTS: Aw man, they're going to win again, aren't they?  Unless Hamilton literally CAN'T win by mid-season, and decides to retire from the sport (which, to be fair, is a possibility - if he's not 100% involved, he's 0% involved), and Bottas out-Raikkonens Raikkonen as a wingman, they've got to be the odds-on favourites.

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