THE STEERING COLUMN: A Different Perspective

THE STEERING COLUMN: A Different Perspective

After a tough race in Monaco, what’s the mood like in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport camp?

Beginning this weekend, The Steering Column will be bringing you anecdotes and observations from inside the team with an irregular blog on our website and official team app.

So after a tough race in Monaco, what’s the mood like in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport camp?

Here’s an insight into the competition that spurs on a team of world champions...

It’s a very different perspective when you don’t need to visit the podium after a Grand Prix.

The cameras stay away (for a while, at least), focusing on the winners who are the heart of the story. The team changes into fluorescent set-up shirts to begin packing up the garage. And your team boss takes time for a contemplative ice cream on a makeshift stepladder…

First, it reminds you how good we’ve had it in recent years. The last time we made it to the finish of a race without at least one car on the podium was Singapore 2015. That was one of the team’s most important learning experiences. And it remained the exception, not the rule.

Second, in spite of the frustration of a difficult weekend – and the clear-sighted, structured analysis that has followed – it’s time to apply a little context.

However, not one of us is satisfied with being competitive – we want to be winning.

After six races of the 2017 season, we have won three of them – including at a circuit, Sochi, where we were seriously off the pace in Friday practice. We have fought for pole position at every single track and claimed it at four.

Has it been a battle? Sure. Does the lap time come more easily to Ferrari right now? It seems so.

However, nobody at the team expected dominance to last into 2017. This set of rules was a blank sheet of paper designed to produce a total reset. And after that reset, two teams have stood out from the crowd.

Ferrari have built a versatile car quick at every circuit and on each tyre compound, ever since the first laps of winter testing. We have created a more capricious beast – which gives us more than a few headaches before yielding her performance.

But in the midst of those struggles, we are right there in the mix and fighting. That’s something no other team has ever managed in the sport’s history across such a big regulation change.

However, not one of us is satisfied with being competitive – we want to be winning.

But do we love a challenge? Hell, yeah.

On Monday morning, Toto woke at 04:00 with a feeling that he simply described as “sh*t” when he emailed the team later in the day. That feeling of not having won a Grand Prix.

It is an old truth that the pain of losing lasts a lot longer than the joy of victory. It is another old truth that while tough times never last, tough people do. And this Mercedes team is full of tough people.

We know what the mission is: to give Lewis and Valtteri a consistent machine to take the fight to Ferrari, by fixing our problems and better understanding the car and its vices. We need to keep adding performance at every race weekend. But do we love a challenge? Hell, yeah.

Because while dominance brings its own luxury problems, this is the kind of competition we get out of bed for every morning.

This is the time when a team pulls together. We have a common goal and a common enemy, chasing every tenth of a second we come by.

It’s the kind of down-and-dirty battling-for-every-millisecond fight that real racing people thrive on.

After all: if winning was easy, everybody would be doing it…

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