Image source: Dan Istitene /Formula 1/Getty Images
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is at least two-tenths of a second quicker over a single lap than seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at present. Verstappen sealed victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier this month with an impressive effort.
“We are behind Red Bull at the moment, in all areas of the car,” Wolff told Autosport. “We have to catch up first. I think the racing gods were kind to us in Bahrain, that we got the most out of the car [to win the race]. That was good in the race.
“If everything runs cleanly and everyone stays faultless [in qualifying], we are two-tenths behind Max on the grid, and not in front. But in sport, everything always turns out differently, and Lewis really conjured up a super lap. That’s why he was in front. We’re stretching with everything we’ve got against what we think is a better Red Bull package.”
Mercedes have won each of the last seven Constructors’ Championship titles. Wolff suggested that Mercedes may find themselves falling down the pecking order in 2022.
“If you keep the rules, the field converges,” added Wolff. “For those in front, the gains get smaller and smaller, even with more effort. And at some point, the teams that are behind will also continue this steep form curve, and then there’s the convergence.
“If you look at qualifying today, it’s tip-top, the way I felt that was the direction we should go. I promise you that next year, we’ll have another situation where we’ll have a totally disjointed field. Maybe not with Mercedes in front, but certainly back to square one.”