Mercedes board understand team’s struggles

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Mercedes F1 team executive director Toto Wolff says the company’s board understands the difficulties it has experienced this year.

The team is under pressure to perform following the ousting of former vice-president of motorsport Norbert Haug last year. Daimler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche attended last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix where his cars locked out the front row of the grid but finished sixth and twelfth in the race.

“Having them at the races is not only a very good motivation for the team, but it is good that they see there is huge complexity in the problem,” Wolff told Autosport.

“When you watch things on television, you always think you can do better. It’s like being at a football stadium as a manager – it is always easier when you are far away.”

Wolff added Mercedes recognize the team “are reacting” to the problems they’ve experienced in the campaign so far.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have qualified well in the opening races but have struggled to make their tyres last. With the exception of Malaysia their drivers have finished lower than they qualified in every race so far this year:

Race Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton
Start Finish Start Finish
Australia 6 DNF 3 5
Malaysia 6 4 4 3
China 4 DNF 1 3
Bahrain 1 9 9* 5
Spain 1 6 2 12

*Relegated five places on the grid due to a gearbox change penalty.

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”