How Mercedes can beat Red Bull at their own game

2013 F1 season

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There’s no great mystery to how Red Bull have managed to rack up three consecutive constructors’ championships in a row, nor how Sebastian Vettel has used it as a springboard to a hat-trick of drivers’ championships.

Red Bull’s cars have consistently been the fastest over a single lap, meaning they have more often than not started from pole position. So while Adrian Newey’s downforce monsters tend to be on the draggy side, knocking a few kph off their top speed at most tracks, the precious advantage of starting first has helped them rack up win after win and title after title.

But the emergence of Mercedes as a force this year could be about to change that. They’ve been the team to beat in qualifying this year, and at the Hungarian Grand Prix they sent Red Bull a warning that they have little to fear from them on race day too.

Teams performance in the first ten races of 2013

This table compares the fastest lap time set by every team at each race weekend in 2013 (in any session) and shows how far each team was off the quickest lap time, as a percent:

Red Bull00.250.910.280.420.140.530.670.120.05
Force India1.780.411.910.981.612.040.771.261.451.49
Toro Rosso2.261.591.61.781.752.4711.280.921.43

It’s clear to see the W04 has usually been the quickest car over a single lap this year. Significantly on the two occasions where it wasn’t – in Australia and Canada – rain affected the final practice and qualifying sessions in which the fastest times of the weekend are usually set, skewing the data.

It’s no stretch of the imagination to suggest Mercedes have had the quickest car over a single lap at every race this year.

They’ve duly converted that into pole position in seven of the ten races so far. However their win rate has been the opposite: just three out of ten.

The reason for that has often been that the Mercedes has overheated its tyres in the race and dropped back. At Monaco, where tyre wear is far lower, they locked out the front row of the grid, held their rivals up and won. At Silverstone tyres were exploding left, right and centre, then Vettel’s gearbox failed and victory fell into Nico Rosberg’s lap.

But Hungary might just have been a turning point. On a viciously hot day, when the W04 was expected to cook its Pirellis, Lewis Hamilton converted pole position into victory. It helped that Vettel spent the early part of the race in traffic, but in the second half the Mercedes was a match for the Red Bull on pace even when both were running in clear air.

What’s more, the Mercedes does not have the straight-line speed disadvantage of the Red Bull. Hamilton easily passed Jenson Button in the race while Vettel, giving away 10kph to the Mercedes on the straight, lost a dozen laps staring at Button’s rear wing.

This will surely have set alarm bells ringing in Milton Keynes. For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too. We could be in a fascinating second half of the championship as the silver cars chip away at their rivals’ advantage in the points standings.

Ferrari and Lotus

It’s not yet a two-horse race in the championship. Ferrari and Lotus have been able to outstrip Red Bull and Mercedes on race pace on occasions in the season so far.

Their weakness is in qualifying where they are usually fighting for the third row, from where they are finding it increasingly hard to win races.

Lotus had the edge in the last two races, putting the heat on Red Bull and Mercedes, but falling short of victory. But Ferrari are clearly growing frustrated at getting close, but not quite close enough, to consistent race-winning pace.

It looked like Ferrari had finally cracked it when Fernando Alonso won two of the opening five rounds. But since then they’ve slipped back and have not been shy about explaining the reasons why.

Last weekend president Luca di Montezemolo accused the FIA of letting Mercedes off the hook over their controversial test for Pirelli ahead of their breakthrough Monaco win, and reiterated past criticisms about Formula One’s rules being too focused on aerodynamics, an area where Red Bull have clearly excelled.

Another explanation for Ferrari’s continued struggles is their wind tunnel. The team have been using Toyota’s equipment in Cologne while their own tunnel in Maranello is worked on to resolve the correlation problems they’ve been experiencing.

One advantage Lotus and Ferrari do enjoy over their rivals is reliability. Red Bull have already lost one win to a technical failure this year and Rosberg’s Mercedes has let him down three times on Sunday. While the E21 and F138 have not been free from glitches, they’ve only had one race-ending failure between them.

The rest of the teams

McLaren’s problems this season have been well-documented. Slow progress is being made and the MP4-28s are increasingly found among the lower reaches of the points-scorers in the midfield.

They appear to have been helped by Force India’s struggles with the Kevlar-belted tyres, first introduced in Germany then revised for the last race in Hungary. Paul di Resta, a consistent points-scorer earlier in the season, was eliminated in Q1 at the Hungaroring, perplexed by his inability to make the current tyres work.

Sauber, however, have made a clear step forward after a horrible start to the season. Their tyre performance looked much better in Hungary and only a drive-through penalty kept Nico Hulkenberg from a points finished. The beleaguered team look set for a more positive second half of the season.

At the back of the field Caterham and Marussia continue to show little sign of getting on terms with the midfield. The latter had a dreadful weekend in Hungary, struggling massively with the tyres. Having begun the year ahead of Caterham they were lapped by their rivals at the Hungaroring.

As we pass the mid-point in the season all the teams now have to grapple with the vital question of how much of their resources to divert to next year’s radical overhaul of the rules. For some, like struggling McLaren, the benefit of focusing early on next year is clear.

But Ross Brawn has said Mercedes will wait and see how they perform at the next two races – on high-speed tracks which should suit their car – before making that call. By then the championship situation could look every different.

Over to you

Are Mercedes the greatest threat to Red Bull in the second half of the season? What do you expect Lotus and Ferrari to achieve? Have your say in the comments.

2013 F1 season

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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Lotus/LAT, Sauber

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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142 comments on “How Mercedes can beat Red Bull at their own game”

  1. “At Silverstone tyres were exploding left, right and centre.”

    Channeling Murray Walker there, Keith? ;-)

    1. One win and all tongues start wagging… If you really have to talk about Mercedes, Rosberg is the man…

      1. And the evidence of that is where?

      2. Hamilton is totally finished for this year.he has yet again a girl friend who is trying hard to destabilise him by dragging him in america and taking his money after marriage then divorce.distracted by that he is not and will not be at his best .Rosberg is the man for Mercedes despite the fact that i dislike that.look for Rosberg to outrace Hamilton due to his American ?is she ?dollar chaser.

        1. Must be why he won a race following their break up…

      3. I don’t see how Rosberg is the man, if my calculations are correct and we remove the bad luck the Merc drivers have had, I can’t see how Rosberg is the man.

        HAM ROS
        AUS 10 8 Rosberg 6th behind Hamilton who finishes fifth (
        MAL 22 23 Rosberg takes 3rd and Hamilton finishes fourth
        CHI 37 27 Rosberg doesn’t DNF and gets 8th which was his postion before he started to slip away and retire (
        BAH 47 29
        SPA 47 37
        MON 59 62
        CAN 74 72
        BRI 99 90 Hamilton doesn’t have a puncture, Rosberg takes second and Hamilton finishes first
        GER 109 92
        HUN 134 94 Rosberg doesn’t retire, takes 9th (

        1. Beg you pardon but i don’t think Nico can take P2 if you consider every one finishes the race as Vettel was ahead of him. He(Vettel) and Lewis was in a tight battle. So a P1 for Lewis , P2 for Vettel and P3 for Nico might be right. So take the 3 Points too. so by Hungary 134 91

          1. My original plan had it laid out with Rosberg finishing in P3, but I only wanted to look at the Mercedes drivers misfortunes so in the end I changed it to where Vettel was still going to DNF allowing Rosberg to take second. Even with changes like the one I did at the last second giving Rosberg more points, and if someone wants to push him up the order in some of the races he retired in he still wouldn’t be near Hamilton’s points.

  2. Its basically game over when Merc sorted out their rear tire degradation.

    1. Well for the WCC it will be close if RB continues to sabotage Webber’s car – but then on the other hand it seems Merc is doing the same with Rosberg. :)

      1. @TMF @tmf42: This is very unfair to both Red Bull & Mercedes which are in F1 to compete at thier best and win, spending loads of money, time and resources and hiring many people … You should be ashamed of yourself first because there’s no evidence to back up this assumption and it would be pretty counterproductive for the Constructors championship. Webber and Rosberg are great drivers, but the likes of Vettel and Hamilton are way better, they are world champions!

        1. I think he was joking…

    2. It’s far from game over. Mercedes can beat Red Bull, but they need a huge amount of luck and hard work to achieve that. Vettel is still far ahead and Red Bulls are getting faster. I think we will see Vettel on pole soon, and when he gets there, it will be very difficult to catch him.

    3. IMO Merc need to keep two cars in the points, which they have been hit/miss at so far. I think that Lotus is better placed as far as constructor to upend Red Bull. Frankly though I doubt anyone can catch them. RBR responds quite quickly and they their updates almost always work.

      1. Ya, They are the Empire ruled by the dark side of the force ;) . If you strike , they bring a million more storm troopers to contend with .

  3. I still think thar Red Bull might still edge it. But I hope Hamilton/Rosberg takes the title to the last race (chiefly because, whilst not a fan of Vettel in any way – 2012 race in Brazil was in my top 3 fav races I’ve ever seen).

    I think that Mercedes still have some reliability issues to sort out, which may hamper them. But this is all looking good for 2014…

    1. Hopefully, if Vettel wins, he will just edge it. Not run away with it as he is threatening to do and turn the rest of the season into a snore-fest. Fans want to see both Championships decided in Brazil with the top 4 drivers all still in with a chance. Ferrari though need to refocus their attention onto race pace or the next 9 races are going to be a disaster and give Luca a coronary.

    2. I think Brazil 2008 was one of the best finales ever. I hope Merc guys offer us another thriller till the last turn.

    3. I hated Brazil 2012 – my heart rate did not drop below 100bpm for the whole race! After it’d finished though I realised that was actually a good thing :D

      1. Now, c’mon , Even vettel would have enjoyed it . Fighting back from the claws of defeat .

        1. @hamilfan no I rate it as the best race I’ve ever seen live without question, but at the time it stressed me out intensely!

    4. @full-throttle-f1 I cannot see Red Bull losing it at all. Vettel raises his game in the 2nd half of the calendar, and Red Bull’s always been able to stretch development well into the season. They have the lead in points, and a reliable, fast car.

      It’s Vettel and Red Bull’s to lose, not Merc’s to win…

      1. More importantly the Red Bull raises it’s game . After Last year’s singapore and Abu dhabi , I felt so gutted ………

  4. This article has got me all excited. Is Red Bull’s reign of terror over!

    So while Adrian Newey’s downforce monsters tend to be on the draggy side, knocking a few kph off their top speed at most tracks, the precious advantage of starting first has helped them rack up win after win and title after title.

    We all know securing P1 in qualifying gives a massive advantage. But what does it say about F1? I have a friend who refuses to watch F1, joking, “I watch the start into the first corner and then I switch off because I know who’s won”. Although this is an exaggeration, it clearly isn’t a gross exaggeration.

    1. @shimks I think the picture is a bit more complicated. In 2013, less than half of the races (4/10) have been won from the pole position. The same happened in 2010 (8/19) and 2011 (9/19). In 2012, exactly 50% of the races were won from the pole (10/20).

      1. I reckon those are some pretty healthy figures. :D

      2. @shimks We all know securing P1 in qualifying gives a massive advantage. But what does it say about F1?

        Actually F1 is like any other sport, the cream always rises to the top. Whatever format you might bring to F1 the fastest teams always battle for wins. Only one race on the calender suits your argument and that is Monaco. But even there the race has it’s own unique attractions and most fans welcome it. At the rest of the tracks there are various strategies to also take into account, like what tyre to start the race on, how long to run the first stint depending on who can better preserve the tyres, how many pit-stops and who is going to be leading when all the different strategies converge in the last stint. This all is very exciting for true fans and except for a bit more durability in the tyres and doing away with the DRS I wouldn’t change a thing.

      3. We should be careful with looking at wins from pole. The mercedes effect affects the number greatly. Vettel for instance converted 2 out of 3 poles into a win. Mercedes only 2 out of 7.
        We could also see it differently: out of the 10 poles those 2 teams took together, 7 of them got won by either of them.

        1. @turbof1 bear in mind that Mercedes score has been greatly affected by their inability to make the tyres last, if they make tyres work like they did in Hungary I think more poles will be converted into wins.

          1. Yes correct. It would certainly raise the ratio also. My main criticism about the ratio is that it is too simple. It is heavily influenced by an analomy (mercedes). But that analomy is starting to fix itself. I think the next 2 grand prix will raise that statistic significantly already.

          2. *should be anomaly >.<

    2. @shimks thank God it is like this, otherwise Sutardays would mean nothing. However, even though P1 is still the best place to start, it is getting harder to convert poles into wins.

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      6th August 2013, 16:31

      Back in the mid 2000’s and earlier, the first driver into turn one would usually win, given the processional races of the time.

    4. Thanks, everyone, for your interesting answers!!

    5. But the line “This will surely have set alarm bells ringing in Milton Keynes. For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too” makes me question what exactly was the 2012 McLaren? Outside of the flyaways in the 2nd half of the season, was it not always in the mix? RB getting 14 podiums with 6 being wins whereas McLaren had 13 podiums with 7 wins… Arguable about HAM’s, WEB’s, and VET’s retirements though.

      1. @beejis60 Red Bull had the fastest car in seven races last year, McLaren nine. Compare that to this year: Red Bull once (in a rain-affected weekend), Mercedes eight times out of ten. And there’s McLaren’s persistent unreliability last year to factor in as well.

        1. So you’re saying that I am right? I rest my case…

          RBR’s car was also problematic (not necessarily their fault); VETs two alternator failures, I believe, WEB being crashed out twice, BUT’s fuel pickup, HAM’s gearbox failure, and getting crashed out by the first lap nutcase, MAL, and Hulk, etc.
          But I was basing my analysis on just podiums and wins, not lap times with respect to the rest of the field. One could argue that, though McLaren had less points, the potential was there for more wins and podiums than had RBR not had their retirements…

  5. Most of the remaining circuits will hopefully favour Mercedes. Spa, Monza and so on… And Lewis normally ends season better if his car is reliable.

    1. Traditionally Vettel wins most of the Asian GP’s, so it will be tight.

      1. That has no bearing on Hamilton’s ability to win those races. Not saying Vettel isn’t strong at say Korea, Suzuka or India, but lets be honest he really hasn’t had a challenge from anyone. I’d say the only track that Vettel has the advantage is India maybe Suzuka but, the rest Hamilton has either won or been very close to winning. He’s won Spa, Monza, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Austin. Came close to winning Brazil last year, and had some great drives in Korea.

        1. history shows hamilton falks away and loses championships as the year goes on ie 2007, 2008 and 2010 he led championships at the end then lost in 07 and 10 and so nearly in 08. no way he will win a championship from 60 points back. he got one race right out of 1… wow

          1. Except it was McLaren who let him down with the car. RBR has pushed to the end of the season and continually brought upgrades, and maintained reliability. If Mercedes can keep its speed and its reliability at least in Hamilton’s case there is no reason that he can’t win in India or Suzuka which are “Vettel” tracks

          2. +1 to kpcart

          3. @rybo do Mercedes switch early to the 2014 project though, as that is where they feel they are going to be very strong? Hamilton may end up being handicapped in the development race again.

            Although what is worth noting is that the McLaren was the fastest car in Abu Dhabi, (arguably) in Austin and in Brazil in 2012, so they only really let him down in terms of reliability at one of those races and the other was just simple bad luck.

          4. @vettel1 I think they aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m sure they have had a lot of plans for 2014 already and Brawn said that they have to continue development of 2013 car as there is over lap for 2014.

            No matter what Hamilton will always be a factor for a race win given the right car, but the true test is on Mercedes and how they develop the car. The -27 was the fastest over 1 lap, but in the race it was all about RB8

          5. @rybo absolutely in India, Japan and Korea but I’m not so sure it was “all about the RB8” in the rest of the races. I’d say Abu Dhabi is difficult to call as obviously Vettel had to carve his way past 23 cars to get up beside Hamilton (which would have been impossible, especially since Lewis’ car broke down), Austin was pretty much even (maybe swaying slightly in McLaren’s favour) and Brazil was again difficult to call due to the conditions. The point stands though – Red Bull were undoubtably far stronger than they were earlier in the season but I don’t think they really enjoyed a clear advantage apart from in those three races where Vettel lead every lap.

    2. @sainaa I’m not sure that’s true at all: if you see my comment here Red Bull have been consistently very good over the last 7 races. Vettel himself also has outscored his teammate to a greater extent usually than earlier in the season, which suggests he performs better relative to the rest of the season himself @rybo. So yes Hamilton is good but Vettel is also very good.

      1. So you (@vettel1) think Vettel is very good? I thought you were a Hamilton fan, my mistake.

        1. @deurmat I don’t see any need for that comment. It’s not a logical progression of the discussion at all and you have contributed nothing.

    3. And Lewis normally ends season better if his car is reliable.

      It’s Vettel who does that. Alonso in 2010 did so as well, but his two titles (and his near miss last year) relied more on taking a huge lead in the first half, and handling the pressure well in the second half as someone like Raikkonen, Vettel or Schumacher came back at him.

  6. Red Bull’s cushion in the championships can only be a help but it is looking like the balance is in Mercedes’ favour currently with their obvious qualifying advantage and seemingly fixed tyre woes.

    However, what I think is possibly worth mentioning is Rosberg’s engine failure in Hungary – is their an inherent reliability problem with the Mercedes? Probably not but it may be a case of the alternators again…

    1. Funny enough its almost a bit like Brawn’s 2009 season, where Red Bull were on a run from about mid season to the end, but couldn’t quite make it stick through reliability and the comfortable points cushion @vettel1!

      1. @bascb, a key feature of the 2009 season was that Red Bull’s improved form coincided with a slump from Brawn (and Button! – qualifying significantly lower than Barrichello on a number of occasion in the second half of the season). We haven’t seen a slump from Red Bull and Vettel (ever, although last year they had a couple of shaky qualifying performances). Did Vettel ever qualify lower than 3rd yet this season?

        1. @adrianmorse: In China, they were quite off pace in qualifying. Vettel started 9th.

          1. In China Vettel hasn’t posted a Lap time in Q3 due to strategy so he started P9. In Q2 he was 3rd Fastest

        2. I do not mean to say it will go exactly the same @adrianmorse. Vettels cushion is not as having 6 wins vs 1 in the first 7 races, the team is unlikely to run out of money for improvements and Vettel is not feeling the pressure of making a his first championship battle stick either.

          But its one of those moments you can recognize a bit of a shift in the top dog.

    2. @vettel1

      You got a point but, don’t kill my vibe :)

      1. @jcost it’s merely a possibility; far from a formality ;) Interesting coincidence @bascb!

    3. I think The other factor meddling with this is the other contenders, ie Lotus and Ferrari which combined with the tyre roulette has so far led to Red Bull having a different challenger car each race. If Merc can consistently win this factor actually would help them. But if their tyre form fluctuates then the opposite is true.

      Also we should not ignore the fact that since 2009, Red Bull have had a better second half (with the possible exception of 2011 that they dominated from start). I am not thinking that Newey a magician and all RB’s success is due to him. But there is no denying that their engineering team can deal with technical challenges thrown at them (like the removal of blown diffusers) well in time.

      Final point is the fact that Vettel has done good races when it was clear that at he needs to do some overtaking (as in Yas Marina 2012). So perhaps they can sacrifice some downforce and try to take to race more.

  7. I mean he is better in the second half of the season.

  8. Lets wait and see how Red Bull will do on the tracks that have sealed Vettels championship lead in the past 2 seasons – Singapore last year was probably as much to do with Hamiltons car giving up, and Korea could have been different if not for a bit of luck as well.
    India needs someone else to win it instead of Vettel!

  9. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    6th August 2013, 12:19

    I would love to see Mercedes stick it to Red Bull.

    Although I am weary of Red Bull’s pace at the Asian-Tilkedrome part of the season.

    1. Yes they usually have a dominance in the latter half.

  10. I’m hoping there will be a championship challenge from Mercedes, but in my opinion the odds still heavily favour Red Bull. Mercedes look to have an edge in qualifying, but they are not as dominant as the all-dry-races-on-pole statistic suggests. On a number of occasions Vettel has been very close, but did not put in a great lap (running wide in T1 in Germany, and having an average S2 in Hungary).

    On race pace, the next two Grand Prix will pose an interesting challenge for Mercedes. The winning strategy in Monza and Spa will most likely be to do one stop, though last year that was difficult to manage for many teams (such as Ferrari in Monza). If Mercedes (and Red Bull) find it difficult to do one stop, then Lotus might be ready to capitalize.

    Since 2010, Red Bull have not had a really uncompetitive spell, so for Mercedes to make up 48 (69 in the WCC) points, it will require either a very strong and consistent run from Mercedes, or Vettel and Red Bull running into trouble. Both are possible, of course, but so far the odds strongly favour Red Bull. Current form does not suggest that any other team can challenge Red Bull, either.

    1. Concerning hitting trouble, I would mark Monza as a possible race for that. Puts big strains on the engine, and knewing has a phobia for too many openings compromising aero.

      1. Stupid auto-correct… I meant Newey

  11. I would love Hamilton to catch Vettel and really challenge but I just think its too much of a points gap, it would take some bad luck on Vettels part and it wouldn’t be decent of me to hope for that, let’s face it, as big a fan I am Lewis isn’t going to go and dominate the next 9 races, Hugary will be somewhat of a highlight come November (along with Singapore & Abu Dhabi) I feel. In my eyes Sebastian is already quadruple champion, but that doesnt mean im not massively looking forward to the second half of the season to see how Merc go but my mind is cast forward and i find myself eagerly anticipating a Hamilton V Alonso 2014 showdown. I just feel Ferrari have to – and will get it right.

    1. @rob-wilson Looking forward to Abu dhabi . Lewis was “killer” there last year in Quali and race. I hope the merc remains reliable . Well , they can have a go at the constructors for sure . Only if Vettel finishes outside the podium a couple of races , it is possible for a title challenge , but I doubt he will do so.

  12. @keithcollantine I must say another great read! I too believe Hamilton and Mercdes are going to become the greatest threat to RBR wining another drivers title. The constructors however seem like a long shot but you can never really know. If Hamilton starts racking up some more wins and Vettel and RBR fall into the clutches of Lotus and Ferrari he’s going to be a prime candidate for winning the title and what a fair tail story that would turn out to be.
    Some presume the main raison those rear tires are not overheating anymore is because Mercedes have added some mysterious slot gaps on the rim of their tyres. You can see them in this sneaky picture taken by some Polish fans at the Hungaroring.

    The only thing that worries me is the usual pace RBR has in the second half of the season. It’s bound to happen again and I do hope Mercedes really can mount a real challenge.

    1. Interesting picture, although I don’t know how the rims looked before, it might be their solution.

      1. I may be completely wrong, but I thought the rims were one of the parts a team could not change mid season. I seem to remember that from another season, maybe with Ferrari’s enclosed wheel thingies?

        I wouldn’t put money on it, it’s just a niggling thought…

        1. I cannot find the rule where wheels need to be homologated and cannot be changed mid-season for this year…. But you are correct in whatever year that was (I think 2009?).

    2. It isn’t a slot gap. It caused some major discussion at f1technical, but eventually everybody agreed that it is nothing more then black tape, assumingly to transfer some heat away. Like drmouse mentioned, the rims are homologated and cannot be changed during the season. sticking tape on it though, is allowed.

      1. @turbof1 it doesn’t look like black tape to me: the inner section of the rim’s edge just before the dark area is catching the sunlight and reflecting, as if it is on a different plane. I definitely think that the dark area is indented in some way or a section has been removed (at least judging from the light reflections).

        I also can’t find this regulation preventing changes to the wheel rims mid-season in the sporting or technical regulations – can anybody quote or link to this?

        1. Take a look at this:

          The person who made this image essentially turned the brightness of the image all the way, at which point the reflection becomes clear.

          The homologation isn’t traceable in the technical rules (neither in the current ones or the ones from 2010). But it is homologated:

          1. @turbo that’s a slightly better angle, the bit which was catching the reflection looks simply to be a raised “lip” (that’s not the best way to describe it but hopefully it will suffice!) on the rim itself: I can’t find any images of a “normal” rim to compare it to so that might be something somebody could contribute (and would be greatly appreciated).

            Thanks for the link also pointing out the homogilation, so clearly it can’t have been a change – I think that only serves to support the notion that they can’t have all of a sudden drastically improved their race performance unless these new tyres have directly decreased the rear temperature problems. Weird why that regulation wouldn’t be clearly evident in the regulations!

        2. it apperently is part of the sporting regulations; 2010 ones:

          (I really had to look hard to get this)

          1. @turbof1 thank you very much! I have a PDF copy of the current regulations and I couldn’t find it in there, hence why I was questioning that particular regulation but yes it does seem rather odd that there isn’t an appendix dictating which parts are homologated besides the engine components.

        3. I have to be fair and tell you I can’t find subsection 28.7 a), which lists all the homologated parts, anymore in the current sporting rules. Apperently the wheel rims are, unless stated somewhere else, not homologated anymore. Back in 2010 they made these revisions quite late. Infact they only came up in august 2010 written in the sporting regulations, when the season was over half way.

          Keith made mentioned of it back in february 2010:

          So it’s kind of a mess. I have no idea what happened to those specific rules. They came in as silently the same way as they left, atleast from the sporting regulations.

    3. If that is black tape I’m going to eat my shoes. I’m not sure about the rims being homologated but I also think the people on F1 technical know their stuff so it is probably right. If that is the case then we might be looking at the next technical row.

      1. @vettel1 @force-maikel the picture is rather deceiving, but look closely at the image from @turbuf1 , the rim becomes 2 planes as it approaches the edge, the is a dip and that dip is covered with something(black tape) at least that’s what i can see.
        If it was a gap then i think there would be support bars to hold the two parts of the rim together, an even if they were enclosed underneath the tyre and above the rim they would probably still be visible

        1. sorry for messing up the link, been some time since i used html

    4. I recall @Hairs posted a link to this a while ago, think they might be interested in this discussion.

      1. @keithcollantine I had, but due to other commitments I haven’t been following it up since then. In fact I’ve had little time to read or post much at all in the past few weeks, and I think we can all agree the world is a poorer place for it.

        Returning to the subject, I think it’s clear that whatever Mercedes have done, it is something dramatic. Therefore, I’ll analyse according to the school of It Stands To Reason, Prof. Fred Colon emiritus. Given the fact that they’ve had similar problems with tyre wear for the past three years, with different chassis designs, and with the same FRIC suspension system, it’s not likely that the car chassis, aero or design itself has changed dramatically enough to fix the tyres. Moving from steel belted to kevlar constructions can’t be the reason either, because the 2012 construction (which is used in the new tyres) didn’t mean better tyre wear last year. Abandoning the FRIC suspension system would be a massive undertaking, creating a B spec car, certainly not something you would do mid-year and 100% not just before a massive rule change either unless your car was a dog and you needed to do testing for next year *cough* McLaren pay attention here *cough*. Furthermore, most technical experts seem to agree that the FRIC system shouldn’t produce this type of tyre wear anyway (if anything, you would think that the reduced suspension slip should alleviate it).

        With chassis, tyre and suspension ruled out, Mercedes are left dealing with one obvious problem: heat. Heat is the friend and enemy of tyres: without enough heat, they don’t work, and with too much heat they come apart. If McLaren ran a system in previous years to open channels from the brake ducts into the wheel rim to increase temperatures and get into the operating window, then it proves that the wheel rim is a good vector for heat transfer.

        So if you can move heat into the tyre using the rim, it makes sense you can move heat out. Your options are limited, however. You can’t blow the wheel rims (unless you’re very clever about it), and even if you could the airflow probably isn’t large enough to make a significant heat difference. Therefore the obvious solution is to let the heat out. The first picture on somers’ blog clearly indicates a perforated wheel rim, like a washing machine. That’s an obvious solution. But the interior of the wheel is clamped against the brake drum, so that design probably wasn’t as efficient as they wanted.

        The newer pictures clearly show a rim with multiple lips: an inner wheel rim, with a heavy lip, which must go around the brake drum. Then a black gap, and an outer lip. The only question is, what is the black gap? Putting tape there doesn’t serve any purpose in terms of sticking one thing or another so I don’t buy that it’s “just tape” and nothing else. F1 teams use electrical and duct tape extensively to blank off aerodynamics, however. So what if the wheel rim is perforated there, and the tape is to provide a semi-permeable seal? By that method, the wheel rim might be considered a constant surface but still “breathable” for heat transfer purposes. Either that, or there’s some sort of more advanced semi-permeable membrane there, or as per the initial polish blog, it really is a slot gap (which might actually allow hot exhaust gases into the rim, and probably wouldn’t be preferable).

        Their move to fully enclosed brake drums would also indicate that they’re trying to keep heat from getting into the wheel rim, and finding ways to get it out instead.

  13. Whatever it is that Mercedes have planned, they had better do it quick. If history is anything to go by, Red Bull earmark the Japanese Grand Prix as the race where they turn their undivided attention to winning the championship. Mercedes are going to have to make the most of the next three races if they want to catch Red Bull, and even then, they will have their work cut out for them. The only way they really stand a chance is if they can drag the title fight out to the last two races.

  14. Vettel has another championship in the bag I feel, unless things go drastically wrong for them (which I don’t think they will!) Really looking forward to next season with all the rule changes hopefully Mclaren will just focus on next years car from now on and have an ace season in 2014! :)

  15. I do think Mercedes are Red Bull’s biggest threat, but Red Bull are very strong on the Asian tracks. Red Bull may suffer at Spa and Monza, but then they should regain form. I would absolutely love Hamilton to take the fight to Vettel, but I don’t see Red Bull losing much ground. Ferrari should have two strong races at Spa and Monza, but then I expect them to continue the poor form we have seen of late. Lotus will be consistent but I don’t see either them or Ferrari challenging for either championships. I don’t understand when people say Mercedes taking points off Vettel should help Raikkonen and Alonso, because they are becoming more threatened by Hamilton than threatening Vettel.

  16. I agree with most of the article, but I think it might be reading a bit too much into the Hungary result, and it’s not at all clear who is going to be the fastest on the new tyres.

    Vettel was very close to Hamilton in qualifying, and might well have taken pole if he’d hooked up a really good lap in Q3.

    but in the second half the Mercedes was a match for the Red Bull on pace even when both were running in clear air

    Both Red Bulls were carrying some damage in the second half of the race. Hamilton had also run most of the race in clear air, with all the associated benefits to tyre and engine.

    I think the jury is still out as to who is quickest on the new tyres. Lotus’ one lap performance also looked pretty good.

    The real loser is Ferrari.

    1. @nigel1

      Both Red Bulls were carrying some damage in the second half of the race.

      Fair point but Vettel’s damage was not all that substantial. And Mercedes having better pace once the fuel load had started to come down is consistent with what we saw in Germany.

  17. On the note of Red Bull’s late-season form, I have compiled statistics on their points scored as a percentage of the theoretical maximum on each track this season since the RB5’s introduction in 2009. N.B races where there were retirements have had the maximum scores adjusted to accommodate for this – one retirement = max. 25 points, two retirements = not counted. Malaysia 2009 is also excluded as 75% race distance was not reached. Number in brackets equates to the number of races competed in where at least one car finished (Australia 2009 is excluded for it only serves to skew the data).

    Australia (4) – 58%
    Malaysia (4) – 78%
    China (4) – 68%
    Bahrain (4) – 59%
    Spain (5) – 62%
    Monaco (5) – 81%
    Canada (4) – 64%
    Britain (5) – 84%
    Germany* (5) – 64%
    Hungary (5) – 69%
    Belgium (4) – 60%
    Italy (3) – 52%
    Singapore (4) – 71%
    Korea (2) – 97%
    Japan (4) – 70%
    India (2) – 90%
    Abu Dhabi (4) – 73%
    Brazil (4) – 83%

    *The German GP is staged over two race tracks, so data may not be entirely useful.

    I have omitted USA as only one race has been staged, so an accurate judgment cannot be reasonably obtained. 2009 points have been converted to the 2010 scoring system for ease of calculation.

    Obviously there are inaccuracies caused by cars not retiring but being affected by reliability problems/team errors but to prevent over-complication I have simply counted all results where each car reached the chequered flag towards the total 43 points (a 1-2 finish) and ones where one car finished towards 25 points (P1).

    I’ll allow you to make judgements for yourself as to where their form shows.

    1. could not agree more….as i mentioned in my comment too….

    2. The major surprise for me in this is Japan – comparatively it’s a rather average score despite Vettel’s imperious form in qualifying and usually in the races.

      1. Perhaps because it is a Vettel track and not a Webber track.

        1. @matt90 to build on that, Webber’s staring from the pit lane in 2009 and Crashjean in 2012, which surely cost on both occasions a fairly decent haul of points (perhaps a second in each, although it’d be rich for me to predict that).

  18. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    6th August 2013, 14:50

    Red Bull are usually very strong in the flyovers though, it’s going to be close!

    1. They’ll be good at Suzuka then!

  19. The biggest problem/help to Mercedes could come from Ferrari/Lotus, if they can match Red Bull’s pace but not Mercedes’s pace than they could be an asset to germans, but if Vettel win another 2-3 races than it’s all over.

  20. I don’t agree that Hungary was a turning piont. It was hot. And people expected what they expected. But Hungary has not big fast sweepers. So Mercedes’ performance was true to form. Mercedes suffers in the combination of heat and sustained dynamic loads. Accordingly I predict that the season will play out in this pattern. Mercedes will be very good at Monza, Singapore, Spa if the weather is cool. They should also be great at Abu Dhabi. The will be nowhere in Suzuka with hot weather and Austin. Korea is a mixed bag so I expect them to be mediocre there. But if it’s cold then look out. There are about 4 races left that Mercedes should win. But the problem is that there is no one around to keep Vettel off the podium whether or not they win. They need to outperform a bit at a couple tracks like India and Austin, and hope for Vettel to have a couple rough patches.

    1. I agree with this – the jury is still out on the tyres. Yes, it was hot in Hungary. But the track characteristics would have a much bigger impact on tyre temperatures than the ambient temperatures.

  21. If I recall correctly, Hamilton has a really good record in the Asian tracks, barring vehicle failures he suffered at McLaren… I always seem to recall him doing well till a mysterious part breaks down (off the top of my head, gear box issue in Japan, car breaking down in Singapore (or just getting driven into), pole position in Korea)… I think if Mercedes have figured out their tire issues, and still qualify up front… Hamilton is a tough customer to overtake, and Vettel is known to get cagey when he isn’t running away with the race. Granted, for Mercedes to mount a comeback, they would need consistent form from Hamilton, which can be difficult at times. But this is done race-by-race, if they win both Spa and Monza, and Vettel has just one DNF… they’d be in the hunt… Lewis loves being in the chase. This could be thrilling. I’m sure Red Bull would want to stomp down this “mercedes momentum” as soon as possible. RBR, like Vettel, aren’t very good when they aren’t comfortably in front.

    1. RBR, like Vettel, aren’t very good when they aren’t comfortably in front.

      Being in front is what makes anyone “very good”.

    2. Yeah, me looking forward to an exciting 2nd part of season! ;-)

    3. If I recall correctly, Hamilton has a really good record in the Asian tracks

      No, I wouldn’t say that. At best he matches his overall record on those tracks, he does not have an outstanding record there. I think his record there is best described as inconsistent.

      RBR, like Vettel, aren’t very good when they aren’t comfortably in front.

      RBR, and Vettel, were comfortably behind for virtually the entire 2010 season. How did that work out?

  22. it’s intresting how all of mercedes mechanical failures have been on rosbergs car. given hamiltons way more agressive driving style this is an odd fact.

    the way i see it, the rest of the season will probably suit red bull the most, especially vettel who won almost all of the asian races last year. only monza and spa will probably suit mercedes better, but who knows?

    perhaps one of them decide to call off the 2013 season and start developing the 2014 car (unlikely though, they both have enough money and staff to create two cars at a time).

    i still think mercedes doesn’t deserve the spot they’re in right now, after the whole testing stuff, and i’m not a fan of red bull either, so i’ll have either of them winning the constuctors title, as for the drivers, my hopes are still with raikkonen.

    1. @rigi

      It’s interesting how all of Mercedes’ mechanical failures have been on Rosberg’s car. Given Hamilton’s way more aggressive driving style this is an odd fact.

      Because driving style is almost negligible as a cause of car failures these days. Decades ago that wasn’t the case but now we have semi-automatic gearboxes, rev limiters and cars bristling with hundreds of sensors which give teams warning their cars could be about to fail.

  23. So what about the constructors championship?
    If Mercedes improves their reliability I think they can win it, simply because Nico is more closely matched to Lewis than Mark is to Sebastian, is not that hard to close a 69 points gap if they’re consistent enough.

    1. I think its a hard road for WCC for Mercedes. If they come first and second for next 4 or 5 races then its possible, assuming Webber and Vettel will score points each race too, but they need a couple of races where they seriously dent RB’s lead. A double DNF or two by RB would help greatly! ;)

  24. Michael Brown (@)
    6th August 2013, 16:42

    Well, I never expected Mercedes to be the team to challenge Red Bull, but it looks like those revised tires are helping them. Those revised tires are changing the running order, though.

  25. I might defy convention here but in my opinion the greatest threat for RBR is Lotus not Mercedes. The Mercedes didn’t beat the RBR on pure pace in Hungary, both RBR’s were compromised in that race and the nature of the track didn’t help them to recover. Also, the temperatures, while high, were nowhere near the records as was expected. I expect Mercedes to maintain their qualy advantage but don’t think that is enough to offset the other 3 teams race pace advantage, especially Lotus. By race pace I mean not the fastest race lap but how far can a driver abuse the tires without ruining them.

    Lotus on the other hand are ascloseasthat to be a serious threat to RBR. In Hungary they qualified 3rd and 6th, in the wrong order(for them) with Kimi having more trouble to get heat in the new/old front tires for qualy. It’s to be expected, as in a recent interview Mark Slade, who has worked with him a lot during his career said the following with regards to Kimi’s driving style: “it’s very easy on the tires, particularly THE FRONTS). So if Kimi improves to Grosjean qualy level with the new tires(no reason why he can’t adapt, remember the qualy score is 8-2 to Kimi so far), then logically he will win races this year

  26. I like the parody at the moment. With the cars being able to pass, for me I enjoy it more. Red Bull has a slight edge on race day. I like Mercedes qualifying and racing near the front. If Lotus could get in some qualifying laps that would get them nearer to the front of the grid. Then there would be a four horse race. As it is Lotus seems to come for a fight on race day. Ferrari’s are in the chase as well well with consistency, It’s the first time in years all of the cars seem close. All of the drivers are very close as well with Vettel having a small edge. Seeing Hamilton come back to form is good. Alonso has always been reliable, So has Raikkonen. Rosberg is coming into his own. Grojean has been impressive. Webber he has his days. Vettel is in his head.

  27. as long as Merc keep taking points of RBR I see Alonso or Kimi stealing the show.

    1. @liambo the problem with that is they’d need to beat both of them for that strategy to work, which I don’t really see happening at the minute.

  28. Is Rosberg going to sit back and help Hamilton take the fight to Vettel?

    1. I don’t know, but he should. He is 88 points behind Vettel.

    2. No, that is not his style… nor would it be supported by Ross. Even Lewis would have a problem with Nico taking on a supporting role.

  29. David not Coulthard (@)
    6th August 2013, 18:04

    For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too.

    And this time around……it’s also Tyrrell!

  30. @keithcollantine: To the untrained eyes of this female F1 fan who’s not a stat expert, could you tell us how to analyze the graphic above (team performance after 10 races) in particular including the 4 top teams? I’ve selected RedBull, Lotus & Ferrari (the lines of this trio go up and down) while Mercedes is almost linear in the table… Thank you kindly!

    1. @ladyf1fanatic basically the line which is at the bottom of the table is the fastest car for that race (hence why the Mercedes is lowest in the table in most instances). The subsequent distance between the other lines and the bottom therefore dictates how far off the pace they were of the lead runner, and of course the further down you are the faster you were.

      Also, if you click on the small dot where the line bends you can see how far off the pace as a numerical figure the other teams were off the lead pace, at the juncture between the horizontal coloured lines and the vertical lines of the grid. Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you Max @vettel1 !

  31. hi,
    i am quite amused with the graph u presented.its clearly not representative of the actual pace of the teams.But i expected a better analysis including tyre degradations as they truly represent the race pace which is why Hamilton and Mercedes won in Hungary and are now a growing threat to Red bull.

    For example,The lotus and the Ferrari’s were supposedly the slowest of the top 4 teams in Melbourne according to the graph,yet they performed excellently there.Also in Canada ,It seems Ferrari had the fastest car closely followed by Mercedes,but Vettel bludgeoned his opponents to victory in that race,with pace to spare.(and the graph points out that Red Bull were slowest of the top 4!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Mercedes may have turn a corner relating to their tyre issues,but somehow the second half of the season, for the past 3 years , has been their weakness. I think its too early to draw conclusions.Even Spa and Monza wont give us a clear picture coz they are not really to the Red Bulls likings. Its Singapore and the run-away races after that where Mercs have to set up a defense to be able to create a sense of panic in the Red Bull garage.Everyone knows that’s where Vettel and Red Bull are simply unbeatabale.

    1. Obviously the data has it’s limitations: that is a chart purely based on qualifying times I do believe, which would flatter Mercedes and make Lotus and Ferrari look more average than they actually are.

  32. Mercedes probably will have the upper hand on the next two races.
    But after that, they’ll to up their game even more.

  33. Well, there’s a bit more to it than just building a quick car and starting at the front. The 2012 McLaren was the fastest car of that season, and LH started on the front row in the first four GP’s, including twice on pole. Results – third, third, third, and eighth. Just because Red Bull/Vettel make it look easy doesn’t mean it is.

    Reliability and weather will probably decide this season. So far it’s been one of the driest F1 years in a long time, with zero rain on Sunday in the first ten races. That’s unlikely to continue. The RB car has proven itself fragile over the years, with numerous problems already this season. Vettel most likely has another mechanical DNF in his not so distant future. The Merc’s have historically been unreliable and NR’s car has been plagued with problems this season. So far LH has been lucky, but you have to expect he’s going to have car issues as well at some point.

    All in all, I think Kimi (in particular) and Nando (a little less so) are still in with a decent shot at this.

  34. This reminds me a lot about the same time last year. Suddenly everybody where talking as if the championship was between Lewis and Seb only. I remember being involved in discussions in which I was ridiculed for mentioning that Kimi and Fernando were still ahead of Lewis. Strangely he finished the season behind both of them.

    Did any of you even realize that he is still behind both of them now? Surely Mercedes cheated their way a quantum leap forward but they are still behind in the standings – even though Lewis is driving one of them.

    I wonder if this discussion is really about Mercedes at all or just about who you want to win?

    1. @poul

      I wonder if this discussion is really about Mercedes

      Well, no, as you can see I wrote:

      It’s not yet a two-horse race in the championship.

      1. @keithcollantine well, I wasn’t really shooting at you (this time :) ) since you also began with the header; “How can Mercedes….” but more at the general discussion in which Merc is almost already crowned as soon as Lewis wins a race or two. If Nico and Lewis had swapped points it would probably sound different.

        The stats of the increased Merc performance are fine but I expect a different scenario after the break in which Red Bull and Ferrari have improved the most while Merc could be at plateau. I personally hope that Lotus is way ahead but I am just not naive enough to actually believe in that.

    2. @poul Brother, where were you.. +1

  35. For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too.

    The Mclaren was very clearly the quickest car in the second half of 2009 – four poles to just one for RB. And LH racked up more points in the second half of that year then anyone else, including Vettel, so it had more than simply great qualifying pace.

    Getting back to the present, it’s clear the Merc’s are the best cars on Saturdays. But it’s premature to claim that they can “consistently outrace” the RB’s (or anyone else) on Sundays based on a single data point called the Hungarian GP.

    1. But that barely counted, as his first half of the season had been poor enough that he couldn’t be a championship threat.

  36. The question whether Mercedes are the biggest threat to Red Bull is quite an interesting one, because I honestly don’t know. Both the Mercedes and Lotus car are a very specialized beast, one is qualifying king, the other is degradation king. Both teams have one superb driver. Therefore it depends a bit on how the season unfolds: do the coming tracks favour Lotus or Mercedes? I’m inclined to say ‘Mercedes’, but as I said, I don’t know.

    And never count out Alonso!

    But to be perfectly honest, I think if anyone else but Vettel will win the title this year, someone has to slow that Red Bull down. If Vettel keeps up this amazing form, in my book this will be his finest championship so far.

  37. @keithcollantine

    It’s clear to see the W04 has usually been the quickest car over a single lap this year. Significantly on the two occasions where it wasn’t – in Australia, Malaysia and Canada – rain affected the final practice and qualifying sessions in which the fastest times of the weekend are usually set, skewing the data.

    You forgot one. ;-)

    1. @kingshark Mercedes were quickest in Malaysia (as shown on the graph).

    2. @kingshark Keith’s right: despite the fact a Red Bull was on pole Mercedes set the fastest lap time of the weekend in Q2.

  38. If anything, the graph shows that Red Bull and Lotus are converging on Mercedes single lap pace. If i was Ross Brawn, i would be mighty worried; as Mercs race pace, no matter how improved, is not a match for Red Bull or Lotus yet. As for Ferrari, they need an inquest urgently!

  39. Mercedes has the quickest car so far and a driver (Lewis) fully hungry for another title (that’s the reason left McLaren). So there are all the good signs for a starring second half. The gap between him and Vettel can be “easily” covered. Now they know the tyres as a fact of improving the race pace, they have a reliable and fast car and ambition… Why not? Good Luck Lewis!!!Always support you!!

  40. Vettel’s prowess cannot be denied, but Hamilton’s a beast and is his match. His quality is beginning to show as he edges further away from Rosberg. Although I think 48 pts puts Vettel slightly out of reach over 9 races (reliability or lack thereof not withstanding), Hamilton is going to take it to him. Pleanty of Hamilton tracks remaining on the calendar: Spa, Monza, Singapore, Abu Dhabi. Vettel seems to go well in India, but is the only ‘Vettel track’ remaining IMO. Brazil, Korea, USA are neutral ground. Obviously this based only on my opinion (interested to hear yours…). The RB and Merc cars are very close on pace so I think the drivers will make the difference this year. When’s the last time we F1 fans could truly say that?
    However it shakes out, the cream is certainly rising. Vettel and Hamilton look to be set for a great battle. They seem to have edged away from the Alonsos and Raikkonens by just a touch, and established an even larger gap to their very capable teammates.

    1. You’re forgetting Japan. It’s the #1 “Vettel track.”

  41. I will with hold any comment about Mercedes form until I see what they do at Spa. I am more concerned about the true tyre performance than I am about reliability of the engines.

  42. As a Hamilton fan, and now Merc, I wish this was true…but I’m not convinced yet. I think the high speed corners at Spa and Monza are still going to show that Merc is cooking the rear tires. I hope you’re right, but I really doubt it.

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