Mercedes F1 title bid 'over' without Vettel retirement – Lauda

The Mercedes team's Formula 1 title ambitions are over unless Sebastian Vettel retires at least one in the remaining 14 grands prix, says Niki Lauda

Mercedes F1 title bid 'over' without Vettel retirement – Lauda

Vettel opened up a 25-point lead over Lewis Hamilton with victory in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix as Mercedes continues to struggle to get performance on the ultra-soft.

Mercedes and Ferrari have three wins apiece this season, Vettel scoring all three of the Scuderia's victories while Hamilton has two wins to Valtteri Bottas's one.

But Vettel has not finished lower than second, whereas Hamilton has twice been off the podium and Bottas - who is third in the championship and 54 points behind Vettel - has a sixth and a retirement.

"We need to find a solution for the tyre window," Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Kronen Zeitung.

"And one thing is clear: Vettel needs to retire at least once, otherwise it's over.

"Ferrari has got a momentum going.

"If it stays like this the gap will become huge - alarming."

Hamilton started a lowly 13th in Monaco and though he salvaged points with seventh, it was the second time in three races he and Mercedes have struggled significantly on ultra-soft tyres.

Mercedes has identified that as its key weakness to address, with the upcoming grands prix in Canada and Azerbaijan likely to be similar to Monaco - and also Russia, where Bottas won but Hamilton was off the pace in fourth

"Of course I can't afford another weekend like this," said Hamilton about the prospect of becoming world champion with a repeat of his Monaco struggles.

"At the current rate, where Ferraris are quick, of course not.

"There's no point dwelling on the fact that you cannot afford it.

"You just work towards trying to rectify whatever issues you've had and hope that you don't come across it again.

"It's not like we came to Monaco unprepared, it's just things didn't get off right to us, and the car was in a really different place than we've really ever had it before."

Hamilton expects a tough time in the remaining 14 races but highlighted the likelihood Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will encounter grid penalties for exceeding their engine allocations.

Vettel is set for at least a 10-place grid penalty as he has already used up his allocation of turbochargers and is also on his third MGU-H of four.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, is on his third turbocharger, two changes away from a grid penalty.

In contrast, Hamilton and Bottas having used two of each component after six races.

"Ferrari seems to work everywhere," said Hamilton. "These next 14 races will be very, very difficult.

"They've had probably the strongest car all year, a bit like our car last year where it just worked everywhere.

"This car currently is not working every single race we go to but the more races we do, the more we learn and the stronger we get.

"We know that the Ferraris are not bulletproof, they've got things potentially coming up, all the totals they've used or potentially used, so we'll see."

shares
comments
Ferrari F1 third driver Antonio Giovinazzi gets Haas FP1 outings
Previous article

Ferrari F1 third driver Antonio Giovinazzi gets Haas FP1 outings

Next article

Carlos Sainz Jr: Red Bull can count on me for senior F1 team

Carlos Sainz Jr: Red Bull can count on me for senior F1 team
Load comments
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021