Computer glitches and qualifying errors wrecked the first race of the season for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, but Ralph Ellis says they will come back stronger in Bahrain this weekend...
"For Mercedes, what seemed like a total muck-up at the start of a new Formula One season is instead an opportunity to improve. “We made sure we understand what went wrong and put a process in pace to make sure we don’t see a similar issue in the future,” said Wolff"
I was once involved in a meeting with a high powered American who was boss of the local shopping mall when somebody who worked there knocked on her door and came straight in.
"Sorry to interrupt," he said breathlessly, having apparently run the length of the very long building. "But we have a serious problem."
The boss looked at him calmly. "We never have problems," she said. "We only have opportunities."
A glorious bit of management speak that David Brent would have been proud of, but I got the idea. When things go wrong you can either panic and go under, or you can work out why and what you can learn from it.
You can imagine Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff having taken the same sort of attitude over the last couple of weeks after the first day debacle of the Australian Grand Prix.
As if Valtteri Bottas spinning off in qualifying and starting tenth on the grid at a track where you can't overtake wasn't bad enough, his technical crew then stuffed up their calculations during the race to hand Sebastian Vettel first place when Lewis Hamilton should have had it wrapped up.
Yet for Mercedes, what seemed like a total muck-up at the start of a new Formula One season is instead an opportunity to improve. "We made sure we understand what went wrong and put a process in pace to make sure we don't see a similar issue in the future," said Wolff.
It's a great attitude, and explains why Mercedes have such a strong record for bouncing back from their biggest racing flops in the last few years by dominating the next Grand Prix - and it's why I'll be backing Hamilton even at the skinny price of [1.85] to win this week's Bahrain Grand Prix.
You only have to think back to Canada last year when Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas between them had made a complete hash of the Monaco race leaving Vettel 25 points clear and [1.66] for last year's title.
Wolff made similar promises then about reviewing all that went wrong, and Mercedes backed that up with a 1-2 in Montreal that turned the tide of the Championship.
Hamilton's 100th start
On the subject of reviewing mistakes I learned from it too, because I didn't think they could possibly change so much so quickly and laid Hamilton. Costly error.
Bahrain is a significant race. Nine of the last 13 winners have gone on to take the Drivers Championship and the unique conditions of a race that starts in scorching heat but then cools rapidly as night falls put huge demands on the cars.
It's a statement race for Hamilton - his 100th start for Mercedes making him the only driver ever to reach a ton of Grand Prix appearances for two different teams (he did 110 for McLaren). He's also scored points in 26 races in a row, and another top ten finish would equal Kimi Raikkonen's record.
We know how much Hamilton loves those landmark occasions and how often he celebrates them by taking the chequered flag. Backing him for the Qualifying/Winner double might be worth a look as the market matures.
I'm going for the same bets I tried in Melbourne - Hamilton to win and Bottas for a podium finish. And I'd see that losing the first time as not so much a problem, much more an opportunity.