Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2018

Mercedes’ Q3 ‘party mode’ is ‘scary and it sucks’ – Ricciardo

2018 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo admitted he is frustrated by the ease with which Mercedes can increase their engine performance using their ‘party mode’ qualifying setting.

“That sucks,” he told media in Australia. “It’s frustrating. I’m over it, I think everyone else wants to see them get challenged a bit more. That was a little bit of a punch in the stomach.”

“Obviously they’re loving it, they’re in a good position, but everyone else is hating it. Hopefully we can catch up. Hopefully in the race they don’t have as much of that because that’s a bit scary that mode they’ve got.”

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Although Mercedes has had the ability to increase its performance for single flying laps for some time, Ricciardo admitted they are getting more benefit from it than he thought they would.

“I didn’t expect that much,” he said. “From Q2 into Q3 I knew they’d add a bit more, I expected them to be more than two-tenths quicker than us. But to go that much quicker at the end that was like throwing a pie in everyone’s pace.”

“They can do it, they’re obviously the ones who are leading. I know it would be nice to be in that position but I know for everyone else it sucks.”

Ricciardo also revealed he was lacking in straight-line speed compared to his own team mate in qualifying.

“I’d’ve loved to be in the 21s,” he said. “I missed a few tenths.”

“I just saw the [comparison] to Max [Verstappen], it was pretty much all in the first sector. There was a little bit on braking but quite a chunk on the straights as well, I was losing a bit on the straights.

“It was OK, I didn’t think it was too bad as far as the balance went but we ran out of front wing early in the qualifying, kept asking for a bit more front grip, but there wasn’t really anything we could do at the end to get more out of it.

“Q1, Q2 I was relatively happy. We aborted the second Q2 lap but generally I was feeling OK with the balance. But then at the end when I was just leaning on the car that extra kind of three, four tenths, we just lacked a bit of front grip.”

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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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27 comments on “Mercedes’ Q3 ‘party mode’ is ‘scary and it sucks’ – Ricciardo”

  1. I’ll bet the “party mode” is nothing but a reservoir of MDMA and champagne.

  2. why is he saying them? we have no idea if Bottas was going to be as fast. And we have all seen in the past how Hamilton finds up those 5 or 6 tenths compared to his team mate. He did the same at Mclaren, remember?

    1. RIC is talking about the car, and not about how good HAM is. We all know by now HAM is an all-time great, very probably the best overall on the grid at the moment… but he cannot go that fast if the car doesn’t allow, it’s obvious. I mean, if it’s about him mostly, why not go even faster now? Or, why he didn’t lap as fast as he did this year in 2017?! Then, BOT is a pretty solid driver, but never seen an obvious champ spark.

    2. @flyingbasil Exactly. Senna was doing the same. These guys can just get some extra focus or something and bring it all together and leap ahead when it matters.

      In a way people saying Hamilton it must be that he’s getting an extra engine mode (when he himself and the team says he doesn’t) is incredible praise. It’s like when you are playing a computer game annihilating the opposition and they claim you must be cheating because they just can’t comprehend how you are so much better than them.

      1. It’s just a fact. Even Toto Wolf admitted they used the “party mode” in Q3.

        1. Yep and Toto also admitted that Hamilton’s mega second lap in Q3 was all down to the driver.

          1. I agree, this is part of the psychology of motor racing: Is he so incredibly good that he could do this in any car or did that car have some advantage over all the others? Even if using this mode was a placebo, the mere fact people think it exists has given Mercedes an advantage. People would rather believe there was a special mode that gave Mercedes an advantage than to believe Mercedes put a lot of thought and effort into making this car a Constructors’ Championship winning car and Hamilton put a lot of time and effort into knowing exactly how to drive this car on that track.

  3. From an engineering standpoint Mercedes has done a fantastic job. Especially to keep the qualifying advantage that they have. It’s one thing to start developing early, and be the best in the first year of the new regulations. But Mercedes has been able to keep their advantage in Q3 after all these years. You’d think that other would catch up, but they are far from it. Even Ferrari. Also if we are to believe reports from last years Mexican GP, and again this years pre-season testing, Mercedes can do a race distance with significantly less fuel. The technical advantage they have can be used in so many ways, it just adds up. Can’t blame others for being fed up with it, but hey, fair play to Merc.

    1. Agreed. I think too often, people forget the “Constructors Championship” side of F1 and focus only on the driver’s side. Earlier this year, Mercedes was talking about how it will focus on getting up to 1000 BHP out of their ICE while all the other teams scoffed and said they’d rather focus on reliability. I guess we’ll have to wait through the end of the season to see how the reliability of the Mercedes holds up/whether they choose the right path. But I think all of this whinging about their engine performance is rather missing the point. Mercedes is doing a bang-up job in this formula, and Lewis is doing an excellent job extracting the most out of it; they should both be commended, especially after such a performance.

  4. Merc really needs to share the party with Force India and Williams. It just too weird to hear that Renault is the most honest team in F1.

    1. @ruliemaulana The regulations were changed for this year so now customer teams must be supplied with & able to use all of the same engine hardware, software & settings that the manufacturer teams do.

      Whatever mode Mercedes used in Q3 Force India & Williams would also have had access to & it would have been upto them if they used it or not.

      1. @stefmeister Having the same engine hardware and software that ‘capable of being operated in precisely the same way’ doesn’t necessarily translate as ‘the customer should have all the knowledge on what the best setup parameters are’.
        Just like when Lotus never been told what it was before. The new regulation doesn’t enforce it now too.

        1. @ruliemaulana: Spot on, mate! It’s amazing how this lawyer-like language always manages to deceive us and we swallow the whole thing, including the huge loophole it hides in plain sight.

      2. We don’t know how much extra stress it places upon the engine, if it’s enough to push the life of an engine below the 7 race expectation then wouldn’t the team accountant want to know why you’re wanting to use it? Also, why not use this mode tactically and save it for the race? If things pan out so you’re running fourth and think that “Party Mode” + DRS will get you a podium place, why not use it then?

    2. as in next mercedes team is in 7 row, yep party mode for all ….

  5. We have to wait and see tomorrows race and next track should be more meaningful bahrain.(practice3 wet/ green track etc) And lewis has always excelled here I believe he has put it on pole in all races since 2014 even against rosberg was better. 2013: Nico +0,436 – 2014: Nico +0,364 – 2015: Nico +0,594 – 2016: Nico +0,360

    1. Lewis was 0.6s ahead of the Ferrari’s on a track that’s not a power track. Bahrain is a power track & the Mercedes will get a chance to stretch its legs, the gap could be bigger

  6. Ric’s looking to divert attention away from his own performance.
    Penalty in practice.
    Slower than teammate so far.
    Outqualified by teammate again (even though Verstappen made an error on his flying lap).
    Ric’s left performance in the car.
    Stop dreaming about being #44.
    Concentrate on not becoming RB #2.

  7. Daniel, take some of that downforce off and you’ll go much much quicker on the straights.

    1. They’re already running much lower wing. Next step would be Spa-style setup, which would just be stupid at this track.

  8. I like RIC. But he has to outperform Max this season for his own confidence and his market value. Looking at his contract situation and the market I think RB have the higher ground, If BOT does enough to win Merc the constructors then I see no reaso why they would want to have two roosters in the same hen house- and have another toxic working environment like they did with HAM-ROS. Especially with Ferrari/RB breathing down their necks.

  9. Party mode is the best! Good job Merc and Hammy.

  10. Mercedes released a video earlier this year showing the starting of this year’s engine, and it seemed to have lots of very happy people, so maybe this extra-powerful mode explains why. A point that’s easily overlooked is this mode comes at the cost of engine life. My guess is the engineers at Mercedes High Performance Powertrains will have specified how much extra power the drivers are allowed to use and still keep the life of the engine within the 7 races requirement. Since Hamilton used the mode for just one session in Qualifying then maybe that means this mode can be used for say 10 minutes per GP without it being detrimental to the engine life. We’ll find out whether or not there are consequences to using this extra-powerful mode in 6 or 7 races time (assuming Mercedes won’t be tactical with their deploying their allotment of engines).

  11. Engines/power units should only have two modes, ON and OFF. And if they want to save fuel they should use less throttle.

    Why can’t you let me post comments without issues, just because I choose not to have a user account anymore it shouldn’t mean that I can’t make a comment because of some nonsense about posting too quickly.

    1. It happens to everyone. Me too. It’s a feature of the platform. Don’t take it personally.

  12. Lights not even on for the first race and the complaints are flowing. I’m sure the cars behind RBR find their technology scary and that it sucks too. What’s hilarious about this controversy is that it is solely because Hamilton made a joke about a well know feature of his car. And people are like, OMG Mercedes have a new secret advantage no fair! He should call it cropover mode and watch people’s heads explode.

    1. I don’t see people complaining. Ric is just saying he wishes Merc didn’t have so much advantage. Which is so obvious it’s almost a joke, of course he wants the best car for himself, not for his rival. It doesn’t mean anything other than acknowledging that his car is not the fastest, which we all already know anyway.

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