Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016

Mercedes has “maxed out” current regulations

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Mercedes has “maxed out” the performance available under the current regulations, according to executive director Toto Wolff.

The team which has won the constructors’ championship for the third year in a row has won 49 of the 57 races since the current regulations were introduced at the beginning of 2014.

Wolff says they are now only finding marginal returns from their developments.

“We’re maxed out on performance, as is normal at the end of a regulation cycle,” said Wolff, “and when that happens everything becomes more marginal.”

“This is where we find ourselves right now, so we must remain focused on every last detail.”

New regulations for 2017 will free up the aerodynamic regulations, introduce wider tyres and also lift the token-based restrictions on power unit development.

One of the Mercedes drivers will win the championship this year. Nico Rosberg will secure the title if he wins Sunday’s race in Brazil.

“For Nico, all this talk of just needing to finish second in order to make it to the end is over,” said Wolff. “He has it in his hands.”

Wolff says the opportunity reduces the pressure on Rosberg. “We’ve seen many races, particularly in the second half of this season, where he has coped well under pressure.”

“But, mentally, I think this new situation is actually a bit easier in terms of tackling the situation with a little less pressure, as he still has another chance in Abu Dhabi.”

“Equally, Lewis knows what he must do to keep his title hopes alive. He will never back down and that’s what makes him one of the great ones. He has three championships and 51 victories under his belt – and no matter the outcome this year, we all know there will be more to come.”

“It’s a really interesting dynamic and great for the fans. As a team, we will do all in our power to provide both with the opportunities they need.”

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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    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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    39 comments on “Mercedes has “maxed out” current regulations”

    1. maxed out in power unit maybe, Redbull has shown they are maxing out better the chassis. next year Redbull will likely dominate again.

      1. With any luck no one team will dominate.

      2. Martin Brundle has said the Merc looks better through the corners than Red Bull when he has been tackside. The Red Bull chassis is a myth their engine is also very good. Merc have the best package which includes the best chassis.

        1. Merc’s advantage is all about the engine. Someone recently showed graphs of this, forget where I saw it now. Red Bull has the superior cornering speed.

          Heopefully very close for next season.

          1. Must be Redbull and Ferrari are behind the other merc engin cars then

          2. Red Bull has superior cornering speed, yes they are eating their tyres quite fast… They look faster only because Merc playing the safe game right now turning the pu down… Remember hammer time? within handful of laps Ham pulled 20+ secs gaps? or Ham/Ros fight at bahrain 10 laps 24s gap to field!

            Dont kid yourself… Mercedes pulling same lap times on harder less grippy tyres than RB/Ferrari does on softer more grippy tyres… Speed isnt everything… :)

        2. sorry, but if you have better fuel effeciency, you can run more power more often, and you can also design your car to carry more drag (down force). Merc’s advantage right now is unassailable, and it will continue to be so when next year the FIA asks the cars to carry more drag :) It’s ridiculous really, Mercedes is destroying the competition from both ends of the barrel, rules are destroying the competition, much like they do in real life :) Enjoy the fake spectacle.

          1. @xsavior I highly doubt it all boils down to Mercedes’ fuel economy. The product we will be seeing next year will be the result of many many factors, not just one. If it all came down to that one factor, well the teams have lots of time with no tokens, to figure that out then. If they don’t then they will lose the competition. But they will have had every opportunity to achieve Mercedes’ level of fuel economy. In reality it will be about many many factors combined.

    2. Good thing all the regs are going to change just as we start to see a little parity…

      1. Yeah I get the sarcasm, but they really do need to get off these tires, at a minimum, no? The cars really should be faster and harder to drive too. We need to see these drivers performing great feats, not be passengers monitoring systems and tire temps overwhelmingly. I think next year could have parity to it too, given that the pu’s aren’t new, and the tokens are gone. If one of their goals is closer racing, then no one team should be as dominated as Merc has been, RBR before that, etc etc. Another year of the current format, even with more parity, would still have them conserving on lousy tires. Perhaps more excitement than this year, but still in an unexciting format overall.

        1. Harder to drive….and you solve this more bigger tyres and more downforce ?

          1. @anonymouscoward Higher speeds, more mechanical grip, more G’s, and hopefully closer racing, equals a more physically and mentally demanding task vs. sitting there conserving tires, equals a harder time concentrating throughout the race and especially in the remaining laps.

            1. @robbie isn’t it more power, less grip less aero means you are more likely to be on the edge with tyres that don’t disintegrate?

            2. @anonymouscoward Less grip? Less aero? Haven’t heard those as possibilities for the new chapter. Just the opposite. I think the new tires are going to allow the drivers to wrestle these cars around without fear of ruining them or taking them out of a sensitive temp window for optimum performance. I envision drivers able to push their cars harder for more laps per stint than we have been experiencing, due to the bigger tires that will have a broader optimum performance window. So I think overall we should see closer racing in cars with which the drivers can do more.

      2. I agree. Its moronic to change the regs. Leave them stable and we’d get the teams converging, and then we’d see drivers making the difference. F1 does this all the time. Its as if the teams want it to be all about them rather than the drivers.

        1. Yes, but I believe it’s been Bernie’s way to shake up the field. Hopefully Liberty / Brawn can sort this out once and for all.

        2. they only have to drop one rule, its in the sporting guidelines, and it’s the one to do about 100kg/race.

          That will never be cut though, it’s a joke really, watching all those teams waste their money so Mercedes can pretend to have the best car on the grid when really they only have one great driver and a fuel efficient motor that outclasses the rest of the field.

      3. Parity @pastaman? You must be kidding.

        Toto keeps banging on about performance convergence because he knows Merc’s dominance is unpopular and he wants an excuse next year when their dominance continues. “Hey guys, maybe you shoulda left the rules alone” etc etc. Problem is, meaningful performance convergence is a myth when you are talking about an efficiency formula (which is what F1 is unfortunately). Are they still putting fuel in the car? Yes? Ok, so there’s still room for improvement then.

        1. Yeah, but think of all the people who have to lie to keep humpty dumpty back together again :) This isn’t really a sport as much as it is a 2 hour commercial for Mercedes, because of political correctness. The sad thing is people willingly accept being outclassed dominated. & That is what F1 is REALly advertising, elitism, and being out-ruled by the authority.

          1. *all the people that make a living off of this :) Conflict of interests, a great way to understand the true convergence and consistencies that underscore the real efforts and initiatives driving this spectacle.

            1. @xsavior Donald Trump? Don’t you have an election to lose today?

    3. Wolff says they are now only finding marginal returns from their developments.

      This was expected, and it is what gives the other engine manufacturers hope of catching Mercedes. I suspect the token system, which was meant to reduce the cost of engines by restricting development, has contributed to the dominance of the Mercedes power system.
      Looking at the last two races, it seems to me the Mercedes cars have slightly reduced the amount of power available to the drivers in order to improve reliability, so the gains by Red Bull and Ferrari look bigger than they really are.

      1. I think Toto was speaking mainly of the chassis not having much more to find, not the engine @drycrust. In other words, the 2017 rules give Mercedes new potential to get a gap to the rest of the field instead of having to see the others catching up faster than MErcedes can find any more marginal gains with their package.

        1. I don’t think he talks mainly about the chassis but their whole package. Basically under the currrent regulation they have maxed out everything. Actually, if it is about the chassis, I think we can see that RBR might have at least a slight advantage over the chassis. But they definitely near maxed out on the PU with the current restriction. So on the contrary, I believe if I have to weight it, they probably talking more about already maxed out the PU rather than the chassis. The key is under the current regulation.
          Next year is mainly about everything outside of the PU. The basic PU spec is the same, but now they aren’t limited to tokens. So unless Merc have something that can make their PU faster but can’t implement it because of token, the other will catch up. The law of diminishing return still apply, only lesser with the no token limitation. Although PU is still important, I believe chassis will play a greater part in 2017. We can see that car with the same PU can have a big performance difference, all because of the chassis (as in the whole car minus the PU). Unless Renault create a massively under-powered PU, RBR should be one of the contender to win 2017. Basically I can see the potential of RBR being faster vs Merc compared to Merc having a massive enough PU advantage that could negate even the best chassis advantage from the other team.

    4. Just shows that a little bit of consistency ain’t bad… just as Mercedes is “maxing out”, the regulations change again and allow more room for teams to make gains in different ways.

      1. no, unfortunately that won’t be the case. The new rules increase the frontal area of the car, and the drag on the drive train, this equates to a formula that is even more dependent on fuel efficiency. All the teams are being punished by heavier more draggier cars. This will further decrease the available power to teams, making them slower down the straght. The poorer teams will have an even harder time finding an optimal solutions for every circuit. The richer teams will benefit from the rule changes, but the poorer teams I am afraid will suffer the most. On top of that Mercedes fuel effeciency will prove to be even a larger factor in who wins and loses. In effect the FIA have handed Mercedes another championship on a Silver Platter. It is so ridiculous, and every year people talk about how the other teams are going to catch up, while Mercedes laughs at the rest of the field and has to find ways to keep the racing going all the way till the end of the championship.

        I am kind of surprised how many other people are not offended with how little respect Mercedes has for the people who watch F1. But as long as their is a need to start wars in other countries for gasoline, and with the EU’s energy conundrum, nobody will say no to desperation and mediocrity.

        1. @xsavior Well Donald, I think it is a good thing Mercedes has respected the viewership by allowing their drivers an equal opportunity. Without that it would have just been another MS/Ferrari.

          As to fuel economy, I think they have more fuel next year, and since other teams have Mercedes pu’s, and tokens have been lifted, I don’t share your fear mongering of more Mercedes domination, and even if they dominate at least there is racing there.

          Bottom line, I think you cannot make the claims you have, knowing so little about what we will be seeing once they are racing in anger next year. I suggest it’s possible the added drag will force teams to run less wing so they are not sitting ducks at the ends of straights, considering they’ll have mechanical grip and ground effects for speed in the corners and won’t need aero downforce as much.

    5. The skeptic in me thinks that Toto is sandbagging it a bit here. I do wonder how much faster their engine will be compared to their rivals without the token system in place. They’ve shown they can make decent chassis and aero, and even without the token system, I’m thinking that they’ll still have the fastest engine.

      I suspect that they’ll be battling a bit with RBR, while Ferrari and McLaren duke it out behind them for 3rd place in the CC.

      1. expect Ferrari and RBR to lose a half a second (or more) to Mercedes, expect the poor teams to lose over a second or more.

        Of course Mercedes are not above ‘sandbagging’ How many times will Lewis need to be sent to the back of the grid next year so people can pretend to be watching something that isn’t completely predictable.

    6. I have a hard time believing that aero is maxed out. Reaching diminishing returns perhaps. We saw aero reduced in 2009 and again for 2014, and teams have fine tuned smaller and smaller details to develop more downforce with smaller surfaces. They will always be able to add more detail to get that aero downforce from smaller surfaces the limit is ultimately the computational power of their CFD in simulating it more and more accurately.

      Given the exponential rate of increase in computing power they may not be able to get any more meaningful data from their current systems, but a doubling in power is only a couple of years away.

    7. This was the year that other teams could have caught up with Mercedes on performance but they prioritised their resources into 2017 cars.

    8. IMO regarding 2017 to assume RBR will run away with the championship next year is simply wrong and i don’t understand why many people think it’s it’s a guarantee, Mercedes have shown that their aero package is equal or at least just as good as Red Bull, they are ahead at all the downforce tracks and even tho Red Bull got pole this year at Monaco you can’t ignore the fact, that Hamilton didn’t even get a full Q3 and come out with 5 mins left due to reliability, driving around to warm up the US and only got to set 1 quali lap without a banker, while everybody else got a banker lap and a couple goes. Also to assume that Mercedes hasn’t been hampered by these regs is just foolish, Mercedes are going to find engine gains as well you know, Mercedes are going to find Aero gains as well you know, not only Red Bull (as you see many people claiming from various sites) for crying out loud.

    9. Not sure if anyone will know the answer to this but it crossed my mind when i read the headline. When new cars come out through new regulations and just through R&D, they come with new technologies, are there instances where these technologies are invented after the regs have changed but COULD have been used on previous regs but were just not thought of back then. There’s a lot that are obvious (power steering, flappy paddle gears), just wondered what the best ones would be and what time advantage they would gain.

      1. necessity is the mother of invention? right?

        That said, there is so little competition in F1 right now, that really, only two teams have the capitol to really innovate with in the current regulations. And most often that innovation is just a way to skirt the regulations, it’s really not any game changing technology.

        1. *capital

        2. & if you want to understand where Mercedes is innovating the most, it’s in it’s end of race rhetoric, and the various ways they can send the only honest driver in their line up to the back of the grid. Lolz.

    10. Not really maxed out when they could put more batteries under the driver and put a 10 year old in the car, easily 5 sec a lap quicker

    11. Who’s Wolff kidding? Mercedes improvements have stopped this year because they stopped working on this year’s car after the Summer break, when the WCC was almost won, and switched most of their effort to improving next year’s car.

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