Bahrain, here we come! Two races at the end of the year, one official test and one race at the beginning of the next – the ten F1 teams have been more or less camped out at the Bahrain International Circuit over the past few months. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has mixed feelings about this particular race venue: while Lewis Hamilton managed to win the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell were out of luck in the second race on the shorter variant of the track.
Following the recent three-day test for all of the teams at Sakhir, they now return to Bahrain for the season opener. Lewis and Sebastian Vettel hold the joint record for Grand Prix wins there with four each. A Mercedes driver has won on five occasions, and Jenson Button contributed another victory for Mercedes power in a Brackley-built Brawn GP in the 2009 season. The team has booked six pole positions in qualifying so far, closely followed by Ferrari on five. The most podium finishes go to Lewis (nine) and Kimi Räikkönen (eight). The first winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix was Michael Schumacher in 2004. While Lewis set a new absolute lap record with his pole time in 2020 (1:27.264), Pedro de la Rosa’s fastest race lap (1:31.447) dates back to 2005.
F1 Fan Voice: Just in time for the start of the season, fans of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team will find a new sub-community on the F1 Fan Voice platform.
Great start to the 2021 Super Taikyu Series: In the first race of the 2021 Super Taikyu Series at Twin Ring Motegi, Customer Racing team 5ZIGEN made a promising start to the new season of the Japanese endurance series. Ougtha Kakunoshin, Toshihiro Kaneishi, Ryuichiro Otsuka (all JPN) and Jake Parsons (AUS) in the number 500 Mercedes-AMG GT4 were runners-up in the ST-Z class. A total of six Mercedes-AMG GT4s competed in what was supposed to be a five-hour race but had to be halted at the 3 hours 25 minutes mark due to heavy rain. Four of the Mercedes contingent finished in the Top Ten.
Customer Racing teams out of luck in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: The second race of the US championship series at Sebring International Raceway ended in disappointment for both SunEnergy1 Racing and Alegra Motorsports. After starting from seventh on the grid, the number 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by SunEnergy1 Racing dropped back due to technical problems and, four laps down on the leader, looked to be completely out of contention. However, Maro Engel (GER), Mikaël Grenier (CAN) and Kenny Habul (AUS) then proceeded to set consistently fast lap times and gradually worked their way back to the front of the field.
In the end, though, they had to settle for ninth place due to a late puncture. The Alegra Motorsports trio of Michael de Quesada (USA), Billy Johnson (USA) and Daniel Morad (CAN) in the number 28 car were also left to rue their bad luck in the 12-hour race. After a strong qualifying performance put them second on the grid, their Mercedes-AMG GT3 was involved in a collision through no fault of their own. As a result, the team had to console themselves with 12th place.
Winward Racing confirm good early form in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Customer Racing team Winward Racing with their driver pairing of Indy Dontje (NED) and Russell Ward (USA) finished sixth in the second race of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Sebring International Raceway. In the overall standings, the team is well placed in fifth position after two of ten races. The number 56 car entered by Murillo Racing finished tenth to ensure that two Mercedes-AMG GT4s featured in the Top Ten.
Three questions for Maximilian Götz of Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed
The racing season at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife gets underway next Saturday at 12:00 CET, and the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams will be competing in the first of nine NLS races. The highlight of this year’s calendar will once again be the ADAC TOTAL 24h Race on the weekend of 3 – 6 June. Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian Götz will be contesting the Nürburgring Endurance Series season, including the 24-hour race, as a member of the Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed squad. In this interview, he looks ahead to the NLS season and talks about the target he has set himself for the standout race of the campaign.
Max, you must be really looking forward to the first race of the year on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife…
Maximilian Götz: Yes, the sense of anticipation is huge. It’s an honour for me to be driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife again this year. For any racing driver, this has to be one of the most fascinating race tracks of all time; there is nothing comparable anywhere in the world.
How important are the individual rounds of the Nürburgring Endurance Series in the build-up to the season highlight, the 24-hour race in June?
Maximilian Götz: For me, the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring is the most demanding race in the world. That makes it all the more important to approach each round of the NLS as an opportunity to focus on preparation for the season highlight and to make the most of every second on this challenging race track. For the team, it’s all about continuously optimising the setup. By the time the 24-hour race comes around, everything has to be perfect. But that doesn’t mean that we were not bothered about podium finishes in the NLS races. After all, as a racing driver you go into every race aiming to win.
What target have you set yourself for the 24-hour race?
Maximilian Götz: Our target for the 24-hour race this year is unequivocal: we’re in it to win! I still have some unfinished business with the ‘Green Hell’ after the way things have panned out in recent years anyway. The conditions are ideal, the driver line-up is excellent. Maybe luck will be on our side this time.