Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2016

Mercedes stand to benefit from rivals’ 2017 switch-off

2016 F1 season

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The second half of 2016 is likely to see Mercedes continue their domination of F1 while their rivals’ thoughts turn to next season.

The last time Formula One approached a major rules change of the kind we’ll see next year it prompted an unprecedented run of success from one team – and one driver.

Red Bull were leading the way in 2013 as the new V6 hybrid turbo regulations approaching at the end of the season. The dominated the second half of the year while their rivals were busy prioritising their 2014 designs: Sebastian Vettel won all nine races after the summer break.

Could Mercedes do the same again this year? They are already in a very strong position as Ferrari have clearly failed to build on the progress they showed last year.

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Teams performance in 2016

Over the past three races Red Bull have been the closest threat to Mercedes. This is now reflected in the championship points table as well, where Red Bull have overtaken Ferrari for second place.

Show/hide teams using controls above

The upcoming races on the high-speed Spa and Monza tracks offer Ferrari’s best hope of hitting back at Red Bull. However Singapore, where Ferrari won last year, will surely be Red Bull’s best chance of winning a race in the second half of this season.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2016
Ferrari are slipping back from Mercedes
While most teams are now prioritising their efforts on their 2017 cars development will not come to a complete standstill, particularly in the area of power units which are not changing next season. Honda have indicated they will exhaust their allocation of power unit development tokens before the end of the year.

In terms of aerodynamic development, Toro Rosso have already indicated they still have parts to bring for their late-developed car. And Sauber have some upgrades coming on-stream for the second half of the year following the resolution of their financial problems.

Teams performance trend 2013-16

While periods of stable regulations normally lead the top teams to converge in performance, Mercedes’ rivals have struggled to narrow the gap in the V6 hybrid turbo era. Having ended the V8 era in dominant fashion Red Bull slipped back in 2014 and lost even more ground the following year.

With much to be gained from prioritising development for next year’s new aerodynamic rules it’s hard to see Mercedes’ rivals making major gains in the second half of this season.

But while Red Bull did all the winning at the end of 2013 Mercedes were laying the foundations for the success that followed. Now may be Red Bull’s time to strike back, particularly as the coming rules changes play towards their traditional strengths in aerodynamic development.

NB. Renault: Lotus in 2013-15

Over to you

How do you interpret the trends in car performance this season and over the past four years? Will Mercedes’ rivals capitalise on the chance to close the gap in 2017?

And can Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg repeat Vettel’s feat of winning all the remaining races? Have your say in the comments.

2016 F1 season

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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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  • 21 comments on “Mercedes stand to benefit from rivals’ 2017 switch-off”

    1. “However Singapore, where Ferrari won last year, will surely be Red Bull’s best chance of winning a race this season.”

      Not true. Red Bulls best chance at winning a Grand prix this year has to be in Spain… because they already won there

      1. Yes, you are technically right, but I think Keith’s statement has an “on merit” implied at the end of the sentence. We all know RB only won that race because the Mercs took each other out on the first lap.

      2. “However Singapore, where Ferrari won last year…”

        There is something special about Vettel and Singapore.

        1. Ricciardo’s performance with and underpowered car, which lost half a sec on the first sector every single lap last year tells me that it is much more about Red Bull being strong there than Vettel.

          1. I stronly recommend you take a look at Vettel his pole lap last year then.

            1. Did you read my comment?

            2. @Ed
              Vettel (in a Ferrari) beat that strong Red Bull, after finishing 1st 3 times and 2nd twice in 5 years. The only time he wasn’t top 2 was his 5th place in a Toro Rosso.

            3. @david-a

              And even that 5th was a very good result… Where do people get this “Vettel nothing special” attitude.

              Only one better in recent years seems to be Hamilton.

      3. Have cleared that bit of text up.

    2. I’m not convinced that the new regs from 2017 on, play into Red Bulls hands. I’m not convinced we can any longer single out one aspect such as aero and say that a team will dominate because of that. People seem to almost universally think RBR are the best at aero but F1 these days is obviously about more than that…it’s about the integration of the power unit to the chassis, and energy recovery systems and how they affect brakes. I just don’t think a trick diffuser is going to make the difference anymore, and unless F1 has gotten it wrong, it’s supposed to be more about the driver next year too. So I just think there is everything to play for and it’s going to be about the best overall packages next year, not who is best at any one thing. Mercedes has had the best overall integration so they to me are still going to be the benchmark for 2017 until someone shows otherwise. But let’s of course hope there are 6 or 8 drivers very close and they can be that way all day Sunday.

      1. I share your opinion and would like to add that 2017 cars will make a bigger difference when it comes to PU power output. Greater wings and lateral cut surface play in favor of stronger engines… So, if Renault is not up to something special Merc will stay where they are now.

      2. barrichelloberg
        24th August 2016, 0:27

        i can’t see mercedes mess up the car so bad that hey will lose their engine advantage

      3. I think it’ll be more about circuit characteristics again. Red Bull seem to be able to create the most efficient downforce so can run with extra wing without picking up as much drag as other cars (they’re doing that this year) and I expect that to continue but the thing changing next year will be the power to mech grip to aero grip ratios. If they’ve got it right we would see similar lap times at the top of the field but via different methods for example the Mercs might be quickest in high speed corners, Ferrari on straights, Red Bull out of slow corners with McLaren being decent at all 3, that would make for a great season but quite unlikely. More likely we would see cars look good at the tracks that suit their performance ratio as I doubt anyone will come out like Merc in 2013 with the point of these regulations being to rebalance power/mech/aero after power took over from aero in 2013.

    3. Virtually every top team has essentially given up on 2016 for development on the new 2017 runner. Therefore, it makes sense that Mercedes-Benz/AMG would continue their beat-down at every remaining race in 2016. And they could do the same by stopping work on their 2016 car for 2017 because no one can match them.

      1. Agree with that. If Rosberg and Ham keep it clean through turn one the rest of the way they ll take all the wins remaining.

    4. I think 2017 may play into Red Bull’s hands, since their main strength is Aero. They will have two great drivers in Ricciardo and Vestappen. So hopefully we will see a proper battle for the title (Mercedes vs Red Bull vs Ferrari)

      However Mercedes may not win all races this year;
      1) Singapore will definetely play into Red Bull’s hands. And mark my word Daniel Ricciardo will win the Singapore GP.
      – Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton
      2) Hamilton has a couple of likely penalties coming up (Engine Penalty & maybe for a 3rd reprimand)
      – In this case i feel that one of the Red Bull’s or Ferrari’s will be able to beat Rosberg.
      3) Finally the Italian GP is coming, Ferrari may take one elusive win this year at Monza for the ‘Tifosi’
      – It is possible, as Red Bull’s wont be to competitive at Monza and Hamilton may take an engine penalty here. So all Ferrari will have to is beat Rosberg, which should not be to difficult for Vettel or Raikkonen.

      1. At Monza, 5th for Vettel, DNF for Räikkönen.

        1. 1. hamilton (even with penalty)
          2. verstappen
          3. perez
          4. bottas
          5. ricciardo (red bull will screw up his strategy)
          6. vettel
          rosberg dnf
          raikkonen dnf

    5. I wouldn’t mind having a boring 2nd half to 2016 as long as it means 2017 and beyond will be closer

      1. better prepare for boring 2016 and 2017. but at least next years cars will be exciting

    6. If Mercs rivals didn’t stop developing their 2016 cars, then Mercedes would continue to push hard and probably increase the performance gap to it’s rivals. Since Red Bull, Ferrari, etc have started focusing on their 2017 challenger, I’m pretty sure Merc would have started working on the 2017 car as well, which means that they will be well prepared for last year without the risk of any of their rivals catching up in 2016.

      Looks like a win-win situation for Merc regardless of what rival teams are doing

    Comments are closed.