Mercedes W14
Mercedes W14 Source: Sky Sports

After Lewis Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013, a new dawn of Formula One emerged. From 2014 to 2020, Mercedes had their grip on the driver’s and the constructor’s titles. They became a new powerhouse of F1 Motorsport. Two other powerhouses – Ferrari and Red Bull had no answers on how to stop the Silver Arrows.

Ferrari had Michael Schumacher, who dominated the grid in the early 2000s, and Red Bull had another German, Sebastian Vettel, who won four consecutive races from 2010 to 2013. Mercedes also found such a savior or hero to be more appropriate in the form of the English racer coming from McLaren. Lewis Hamilton won a world driver’s championship in 2008 for McLaren. But things changed from the 2014 season with the introduction of the turbo-hybrid era.


What’s Sandbagging In Formula One?

W13 - Mercedes
Mercedes In 2022 – W13

Lewis Hamilton was unstoppable, as was Mercedes. In 2016, Hamilton could not win the driver’s title, but his Mercedes teammate back then, Nico Rosberg, brought the title home. So what were the factors that helped Mercedes dominate for so long? Were the car good and the driver great the only reason? People often accuse Mercedes of using the Sandbagging trick. But it’s not only exclusive to the Silver Arrows. A lot of teams use that trick. But for the layman, what is the trick called Sandbagging? This practice happens when the groups, along with the drivers, plan to slow their speed during the pre-season tests. It is a way of hiding the true potential of the car from the other teams.

Drivers generally use this camouflage as a mode of deception for their rivals and all the other teams. Nobody will know the strengths and advantages of the car before they get to the halfway of the season. Meanwhile, the other teams will not think about making any sort of adjustments to their car to tackle the team using the method of sandbagging. Finally, when it is too late for the others, these teams would show the car’s true strength at the last minute.

Mercedes And Their Sandbagging History!

Apparently, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been doing that for years. During the 2017 pre-season, Ferrari looked like the fastest. Mercedes was no match for Kimi “The Iceman” Raikkonen. He was faster than all the drivers. The Finnish driver of the Ferrari team was 1.3 seconds faster than the Finnish driver of Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas. In interviews, Hamilton also explained why the Ferrari was the fastest in the grid. That they had more pace than any team. However, the season kicked off, and Lewis Hamilton showed his true color winning pole positions and the championship. Evidently, Ferrari was fast but no way near the champions Mercedes.

Very similar tactics were used in 2018 and 2019. The W09 of Mercedes in 2018 was nothing short of a monster when the season started, but during the pre-season Ferrari with Vettel looked the best on the grid again. In 2019 Vettel and Charles Leclerc started pretty well until Hamilton and Bottas showed their true class in Australia and won the season by taking 1-2s during the first five races of 2019, a record in Formula One.

How Does The Future Look Like For Mercedes After Day 1 Of Pre-Season Testing?

Seemingly, the following year was different because Mercedes did not need any sandbagging tricks, as W11 was just an unbeatable car in F1 history. Albeit, in 2021, things did not work for the Silver Arrows anymore. There was a lot of speculation regarding the 2022 Mercedes campaign, as many thought the Silver Arrows were using the same trick again. Later it turned out to be a severe problem that caused the Silver Arrows the season. Now the 2023 season will begin in a few days’ time, and the pre-season tests are undergoing as usual.

But the Silver Arrows has performed better than expected with the new W14 car. However, Russell and Hamilton finished 5th and 6th after the opening day. If the car is good, then weren’t they supposed to perform better? Is this another Sandbagging technique of Mercedes? Only time will tell. If the car is good, Lewis Hamilton won’t have any excuse if he fails to win the 8th title this time.