Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

‘The car starts to bend’: Catalunya’s turn nine is flat-out for Mercedes

2018 F1 season

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The new Mercedes W09 can take two corners flat-out at the Circuit de Catalunya where previously its drivers had to lift the throttle, including the very fast turn nine.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both revealed they had taken turns three and nine without lifting during last week’s test.

“It is something really special,” said Bottas. “It is so difficult to describe though.”

“We are going nearly 5Gs lateral in turn three and turn nine. And you can just feel it.

“The cars, there’s so much downforce in those speeds, you can really feel the whole car starting to bend and flex and still you have the grip and you need to trust the grip. Sliding the car in those speeds is a good feeling, there’s a smile on my face every time.”

Hamilton said he’d never experienced this kind of cornering performance in an F1 car before.

“We’re finding, because we have a lot more downforce, you’re flat through turn three,” he said. “Yesterday I was flat through turn nine which I’ve never been in the whole 10, 12 years I’ve been racing. It’s awesome.”

However Hamilton believes the increased performance seen at the Circuit de Catalunya is also partly due to the changes to the track. “I don’t think we’re going to be three, four seconds faster at the first race,” he said. “I think it’ll be more like a second or two, maybe.”

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Pirelli sporting director Mario Isola revealed drivers from other teams had described the increase in cornering forces this year.

“It was funny the description from [Daniel] Ricciardo saying I’m losing my head in turn nine because of the lateral forces,” he said.

“But it is true, it’s quite impressive, they brake in turn one, full throttle until turn four. So they do one, two three all full throttle and the speed is really high.

“Last year we found 32, 35kph quicker in turn three, turn nine. I have to check the data but we have an additional step in speed in these corners. So the cars are becoming also really physical to drive because of the acceleration on the body of the driver.”

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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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51 comments on “‘The car starts to bend’: Catalunya’s turn nine is flat-out for Mercedes”

  1. Have Ferrari demanded a chicane yet? (they’ll leave F1 if one isn’t built)

    1. I’ll be laughing at you when Ferrari blasts past Mercedes around the outside of turn 9 at the GP this year.

      1. I don’t think you’ll be laughing much this season.

        1. Yeah I know.

          1. This was sadder than some reddit threads.

        2. because there is only one turn 9 at the Circuit of Catalunya or because Ferrari will be rubbish this year?

          1. @johnmilk maybe Ferrari are hiding a secret weapon for Melbourne, who knows.

          2. @johnmilk

            Because Mercedes will be stronger this year. And also because Ferrari couldn’t manage pulling an overtake like that in 2017, so 2018 seems a whole lot less probable.

          3. @todfod in all fairness the overtake that Vettel pulled on Ricciardo in China was something else.

            That’s another subject, I’m afraid you are right, Mercedes will destroy the competition

          4. @todfod
            Mercedes have just refined what was a championship winning car. So expect them to be competitive straight away. Ferrari went aggressive again with a title contender and a race winning car : they optimized their side pods concept and corrected theoretically what was their main weakness, the high speed aero, by going for the long wheelbase. That’s why Mercedes seemed more “in palla” during the testing days because Ferrari are still working to find the optimum set up for the car.
            There is a lot of potential to inlock from the Ferrari, however the big question is whether they have closed the gap to Mercedes power wise or not , if they managed to do so Mercedes will get a good run for their money and @marciare-o-marcire will be laughing like crazy.

          5. @johnmilk
            Yeah.. That move on Ricciardo was brilliant. But what I meant was they couldn’t pull a move like that on Mercedes on 2017, so it seems highly unlikely that they would in 2018

            I highly doubt Ferrari will be that strong. They’ve dumped their short wheel base philosophy and gone the Mercedes route. They’ll time to get that working for them. Also, there’s a great chance they might lose their advantage at tracks that suited their short wheel base car.

            Mercedes last season was compromised slightly because of their late suspension redesign. This year they’re well prepared in that area.

            Overall, in testing, Ferrari didn’t impress as much as they did last season, and Mercedes don’t even look bothered by Ferraris pace. Honestly, I think Red bull will jump Ferrari by the mid point this season.

            As mentioned, Ferrari couldn’t overtake a Mercedes last season, so I highly doubt anyone will be getting any laughs in this season.

        3. @todfod wait till Ferrari does a flying lap at the same time as Mercedes does an in-lap /s

      2. Actually I think both Ferrari and Red Bull will be fighting Mercedes from race 1 this year.

    2. It’s not funny @bullfrog.. well, it actually is. Marchionne is getting ridiculous.

  2. Please please don’t say that F1 downforce made the sport is physically challenging…

    1. We should say it. It should discourage over-exuberant females from making false claims about their physical abilities.

    2. @ruliemaulana To be fair if anything it’s implied in the article that the resurfacing resulted in some additional mechanical grip (plus there may have been some more from new tyres?).

      1. Agree. But since all venue which also hosts MotoGP will prioritise smoother asphalt, more and more turn will be having bigger cornering forces. (with progressing horsepower over the year too)

        1. @ruliemaulana yeah but in this case it isn’t quite to do with downforce

    3. @ruliemaulana well i think it is fair to say it does. Have you ever been exposed to higher G-Forces? (shocks aside) It really does wear you out quite quickly

      1. Indeed. But admitting that fact is against the narrative that there’s no need for women category in racing. Which I think it’s unfair. We should already cherish many women champions by now if there was already a Women F1 Championship.

        1. This. Women are well capable of racing, tenis, athletics, etc etc. But ignoring biological differences is well ignorant.

          For a woman to be competitive in F1 she would need to be an amazing outlier when compared to the general women level of performance.

          No point fighting biology and statistics, trying to push politically corrected narrative.

          Make a women championship and let them compete on equal ground.

          1. For a woman to be competitive in F1 she would need to be an amazing outlier when compared to the general women level of performance

            You realise that the exact same statement can be made for men, right?

  3. Hamilton said he’d never experienced this kind of cornering performance in an F1 car before.

    He should have asked Vettel about his feelings when he drove the RB6 around Catalunya !

    1. The RB6 was able to take the corner flat probably because it’s entry speed was lower than W08’s or W09’s.

    2. @sbannamalai
      I don’t think that the RB6 entry speed is much lower than the W08 (I have to look at the onboard videos to confirm) but nevertheless, it was still producing 5G lateral in turn 3 in Barcelona and also in Cops corner in Silverstone which is mind blowing.

  4. I guess Jorda was right, if a guy as fit as Ricciardo can barely handle the G-forces I can hardly think of a girl doing better ? anyone ?

    1. @abdelilah
      I do not know much about G forces but a friend of mine who did have a top level international military training told me that blood pressure is the main factor that determines the G tolerance. There are also other factors that looked strange to me too like for example : smoker or non smoker, tall or short, skinny or not…

      1. Don’t forget that G forces in an aircraft are vertical through the center of the body; G forces in a race car are lateral, pushing you sideways and tipping your head over. Way different effect and requiring lots of strength.

        1. Exactly what I was about to say, moreover I don’t think the G forces levels in a race car are anywhere near those of an aircraft in action but the type produced requires muscular strength that a women might lack at the same mass.

          1. It is scientifically proven that women have higher G tolerances than men do. Women in general are smaller than men, and so the distance between their heart and brain is shorter, making it faster to pump blood towards the brain. Therefore they can handle g forces better.

          2. @spafrancorchamps
            Isn’t it like ‘will or will not pass out at some crazy G’ type of tolerance? As in completely worthless, because those are much higher then F1 cars?. What @abdelilah meant was that how you handle the G force (how you perform physically, mentally which is strength and focus) as opposed to sit-in-a-chair-until-you-pass-out kind of thing you’re probably taking about.

          3. @spafrancorchamps ferrari was shorter but didnt help their g-forces :) so completely irrelevant…

            under the g force, what matters is how much processing you can do to make right decisions… we all know under even light stress, women freeze!
            women may have the capability/durability to endure high g force means nothing, when under g force, if they become tesla’s new spacewoman for mars mission!

          4. @spafrancorchamps averages are irrelevant when you’re talking about the extreme ends of the spectrum. The average man can’t handle an F1 car either so it’s a meaningless point.

    2. You can hardly think of it, so it must be true. I’m assuming you are some kind of biologist or other scientist who has data to back up your claim, and not just someone spouting their own biases. No? Oh…

    3. Jorda is wrong, there are a lot of women fighter pilots in the USA air force and across the world, the main reason a lot of them dont make it is because of weight and height requirements on ejection seats as women tend to be smaller than men. Women can drive high G force cars as well as men. It is very difficult for a male talented driver to make it to F1 considering all the pay drivers we have today, factor that to the reduced pool of women talented enough to make it, plus some men in control who beleive they cant and you might see why we dont have women in mote active roles in F1 today.

      1. i doubt it has anything to do with just some men in control dont allow women… it s kind of old and feminist approach… if there is one very talented women, we would have def seen one in F1! There is women in all sort of sports, limitation is interest and passion! If they drive like how they drive on the road, you shouldnt worry much about not seeing any… women generally not interested in driving at the edge…. thats a fact, racing is already a fierce and dangerous enough, and also quite crowded with lots of wannabes… if there was even one very talented woman driver at the level of f1, there would be 100 sponsors! but there just isnt one interested/passionate enough mate…

      2. on the other hand, think about how attractive a female driver is for sponsors. One could argue that the smaller pool of female drivers get more of a look than the much larger pool of their male peers and are sometimes given opportunities beyond their abilities when men of equal ability would have never been considered.

  5. My experience is the girls can handle gs better than men. Lower body mass and stronger cardio endurance as compared to men.

    1. May I ask how you acquired that experience?

    2. Women have “stronger cardio endurance compared to men”??

      Can you give an example of a sport where this is exemplified?

      1. as far as i know men have better cardio endurance, i saw a tv show on netflix about ultra marathons.. and the best woman was like wayyy behind the best man, she talked alot about women empowerment… and beating the guys blabla yet at the end she was crying and depress and couldnt get close to the best time of the men, she did the vermont long trail in 5 days 7 hours xx minutes, and the best guy did it in 4 days 12 hours xx minutes, she basically destroyed all the women but even with that it was almost 2 days slower than the best guy

        1. @j3d89 Carmen Jordan would probably be 2 days behind Hamilton and Vettel.

          1. Jorda* Edit button please Keith!

    3. The direction of the G force in a race car, laterally, is totally different than a vertical G force in an aircraft or in a pivoted centrifuge where the force is vertical through the body. There are real issues with muscle strength to hold a head up against the lateral force, as well as counter the 5 g side load to the body; that’s why drivers exercise and develop their neck muscles. I don’t argue that women may handle G forces better than men, I do argue that men have better musculature to handle lateral G forces in a race car. This isn’t to suggest any negative things about female drivers, it’s just a fact that men are stronger than women. Sure, there probably is a woman who can handle the forces as well as a man, but I would turn your statement around a bit and maybe say:

      ‘My experience is the girls can handle vertical G forces better than men……..’ Laterally, not so sure.

  6. The merc is so good it is starting to take the circuits shape, fml

  7. well, if Mercedes can do 3 and 9 flat out why they don’t have the best time overall? where do they lose so much big advantage?

    1. Mercedes only took turn 3 and 9 flat out, but Pirelli mentioned others able to took turn 2 -> 4 and 9 flat-out. So Mercedes is less superior it seems.

      1. Where did you see Pirelli saying that?

    2. They never used the hypersoft tires

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