Charles Leclerc not surprised by Mercedes decline but backs Hamilton to recover
They were the dominant force in Formula 1 since the hybrid era began in 2014, but this season Mercedes have struggled to put out competitive cars and are a long way behind rivals Red Bull and Ferrari
Charles Leclerc reckons he expected Mercedes to finally struggle after a period of dominance – but refused to rule out the idea of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell fighting at the front later this year.
After several years of domination, Mercedes are some way off the pace so far this year. Their struggles to find performance have left them adrift of Red Bull and Ferrari in the constructors’ standings after the first seven races of the season, with no signs yet that they will be able to close that gap.
Russell has managed to find an incredible level of consistency, finishing in the top five in all seven races so far this year to score 84 points despite having a car which is not as competitive as he might have expected it to be in his debut campaign with the team. Hamilton, by contrast has managed 50 points from an inconsistent run of results.
The W13 car, with no sidepods in a bold move from the aerodynamics team in Brackley, has been one of the worst affected by the ‘porpoising’ effect that has plagued many teams this year. With the return of ground effect this season, the bouncing at high speeds comes at the cost of vital downforce, leading to slower lap times.
Referencing Mercedes’ decline this season, Leclerc told motorsport.com : “I think that at some point every team will stop winning.” He then admitted that “it’s always strange when such a dominant team is in trouble at the beginning of a season.”
Even though he and his team are ahead of Mercedes in terms of both performance and points after seven races, Leclerc went on to add that he remains wary of a Silver Arrows resurgence. “I wouldn’t write them off for a long time because I know what a strong team they are,” the Monegasque added.
“What they have achieved in the past was no coincidence – it’s the result of when the right people work together. Yes, they had a difficult start to the season but I have no doubt that they will be back very soon.
“They took a first step forward in Barcelona and I hope they will be back soon and will compete with us for victories. It would be exciting for Formula 1 to see three teams battle it out.”