Formula 1 writer
Will the silver arrow hit (Red) Bull's eye?
Posted on: 09:51 AM IST Dec 06, 2011 IST
Mercedes GP will now have a new name from 2012. The German team has added AMG to its existing name. For a team that is desperate to forget the past, a new name couldn't have come at a more appropriate time.
The years 2010 and 2011 have been forgettable. Despite boasting of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, the team hasn't managed to win a single race. In fact, the team's best result has been third place. In 2010, Rosberg, who has outperformed his senior colleague and seven times world champion, managed three third-place finishes. This season the team couldn't even manage a single podium finish.
Schumacher's celebrated return to the sport in 2010 has gone from bad to worse. The man for whom winning races was a habit till his retirement in 2006, has finished in ninth and eighth place in drivers' standings in the first two years of his comeback. Worse, this year, the factory team of Mercedes, which lacked the pace of a Red Bull, a Ferrari or a McLaren in almost every race, was beaten by its private customer Force India on more than one occasions. Schumacher hasn't done any justice to himself or the team this year with some astonishing driving errors. And what was even more surprising was that all this happened despite the team being led by one of the most creative, smart and successful team bosses Ross Brawn.
The Englishman has achieved success with different teams at different times. He and Schumacher tasted success at Benetton and Ferrari. Brawn's genius was the driving force behind Jenson Button's incredible win in 2009. Yet, the same Brawn hasn't been able to make an impact on the Mercedes GP team for the past two years. There could be a positive aspect to all this after all.
Perhaps, the below par performance this season could be a hint that the team would ascend spectacularly in 2012. This pattern had occurred in 2008 and 2009 as well. In fact, 2008 was one of the worst seasons for the then Honda team, languishing at the bottom despite having talented and experienced drivers like Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Much before the 2008 season had ended, the team had started working on its 2009 challenger. Button and Barrichello had finished 18th and 14th respectively. Brawn made use of the rule changes in 2009 with his early work and at the end of the year Button was the champion while Barrichello was third in the championship.
It won't be a surprise if Brawn used the same strategy this year. Knowing that the car would never be a serious contender, the team may have focused on 2012 much earlier than the other top teams which were engaged in a close fight (excluding Vettel).
From next year onwards, the team will be strengthened by the arrival of experienced technical personnel like Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa, former technical directors of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari respectively. The team of Brawn, Bob Bell, Costa and Willis is a formidable one. With the kind of resources that Mercedes has at its disposal, next year's car should be something that the current top three should watch out for.
Button himself sounded the warning by saying that ''Mercedes GP have been preparing for 2012 for half of this season, as they did before I became world champion.'' Button knows about this better than anyone else. The silver arrow could be aiming for (Red) Bull's eye in 2012.