Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018

Ferrari are half a second quicker on the straights – Mercedes

2018 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes are losing half a second per lap to Ferrari on the straights at Hockenheim, according to team principal Toto Wolff.

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner claimed after the last race Ferrari now has the best power unit in Formula 1. Wolff admitted Mercedes is now lagging behind its rivals in outright speed.

“I’ve heard Christian complaining for the last four years about straight line speed so I don’t want to go there,” he said. “But as a matter of fact it is where we lost out.

“They have a great power unit, huge performance – we’re looking good through all kinds of corners but we are not able to match their straight-line performance.

Valtteri [Bottas] was exceptional in the third sector, that’s why he was even close to pole position. But we just have to look at things and try to improve.”

Wolff said Mercedes’s deficit was “five tenths on the straights.”

“No, it’s not expected but in Formula One you need to expect everything and we need to find out how we can increase our output.”

The design of Ferrari’s power units, and the apparently novel methods they are employing to regenerate energy, has been a focus of interest in the paddock. But Wolff says Mercedes must focus on improving its own design to remain competitive in the championship.

“There’s not one single second I want to look at Ferrari. I want to look at ourselves, I want to look at Mercedes and see how, is there anything we’ve missed.

“How can we increase our power output? On the ICE, on the electrical systems? From the battery, from the MGU-H – whatever we can look at because if we want to win this championship or stay in the hunt of the championship we’ve got a severe warning today, in terms of what we’ve seen.

“I think it’s very important, from the mindset you need to have, to be able to say ‘what can we do, in order to achieve that power output?’ Rather than looking over and as a default reaction to say it’s not legal. We are in a situation where we’re looking at ourselves, how can we achieve that and if we can not achieve it, how can somebody else?”

The scale of Ferrari’s advantage at Hockenheim compared to previous circuits came as a shock, Wolff admitted. “I think we haven’t seen anything so obvious – so blatant.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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33 comments on “Ferrari are half a second quicker on the straights – Mercedes”

  1. While it’s evident Ferrari have a better power unit, I think five tenths is a bit of a stretch – I doubt Renault lost as much to Mercedes yesterday.

    1. Dutch TV compaired Bottas and vettels sector 3 in the last qualifying runs, there were 2 corners where bottas went flat out and vettel had to lift (and even brake), it seems like the merc is running (a lot) more downforce than the ferrari.

    2. @pratyushp276 It might be a stretch, it just seems that the aero on the Merc is a bit better and the PU on the Ferrari is a bit better – so on this circuit, Ferrari is a tiny bit ahead. Not forgetting that Hammy did not get a Q3 run. So it’s very very close.

      What baffles me is the Red Bull package. If Wolff says they are losing 0.5 on the straights, how much is RB losing? And how good is their aero package! It must be one of the best chassis Newey ever designed! And I believe that. If, in any way, Honda make a bit step for next year, Max will be champion. But I fear the Honda engine will match Renault at best and still lack that upper hand.

      I think RB will lock the front row at Hungaroring next week.

      1. I think Toto meant in total, they lost 0.5 in the combination of the straights at Hockenheim. If it’s 0.5 in every straight, then the FIA might take action to investigate because that’s crazy for every straight.

      2. Christian said it was about a second to the ferraris, so about half a second to the mercs. And i’d imagine the honda is a similar amount behind the renault.

  2. Patrick Calleja
    22nd July 2018, 8:16

    All recent comments lead me to believe that it is very likely that the driver who wins championships has the fastest reliable car. Merc ds has been very fast in the last few years and respective drivers within won the championship. With this in mind, I am convinc d that often div rs may be overrated

    1. pastaman (@)
      22nd July 2018, 13:29

      The fastest, most reliable car wins the championship? A stunning conclusion.

  3. How Merc goint to figth with Reds ? PU worse, strategy worse, reabiliaty worse, update worse, how ?

    1. Really, it’s not that bad as you made it look. Thing is, Mercedes kinda have the better car in the race day.

      1. @mg1982 No, it’s usually Ferrari who has the better car for race day, but we more often then not don’t get to see this because of incidents (ie a Ferrari hitting someone and then a chance for a fight for P1 is gone).

      2. That car need clean air also . Today Ric will be overtakes much easier than Ham. Hydraulics issue third time in 11 races, strategy issue every time when vcs

    2. We are coming to the end of Mercedes domination era, they’ve meet design and performance bottleneck. It can be seen on this year’s Mercedes that has less apparent new innovative area. What happen next is frequent breakdown while they trying to squeeze more juice on the same PU. By 2020 Mercedes would be behind the Red Bull-Honda and Mercedes could be losing interest on F1 and quit. Perhaps Honda to regain back their factory?!

  4. Next day Horner will state that they lose 3s on the straights thanks to Renault. And I thought the statements by RedBull were already silly..

  5. Well if it’s power wise, the team that can do it best is Mercedes. The problem is how much does improving the power unit compromise their quality because in terms of power unit, they have been the most reliable since 2015.

  6. This was already the case in Australia. Perhaps not by so much, but Mercedes was then also losing on the straights and gaining it back under braking and through some of the corners (IIRC the fast ones). There is a great youtube clip demonstrating this with a side-by side comparison

  7. Toto’s statement is frustratingly short on detail.

    There is one obvious reason for a car being much faster on straights, and slower around corners. Obvious enough that he must have a reason to rule it out, but not say it.

    Does the performance jump apply to all Ferrari engined cars? Haas and Sauber are doing rather well of late, but the correlation with Ferrari’s performance isn’t clear-cut.

    1. Yes all cars

      38 hp is huge, especially when you consider they were already a few hp ahead in australia.

      Makes sense given the swing in relative performance between the merc/renault and ferrari engined midfield

  8. Yay, expect this year Ferrari will dominate Monza Home GP for the first time in V6 hybrid era. Over 15 sec lead to the non-Ferrari powered car?!

    1. Now that would be nice. Tiffosi would be exstatic.

  9. Well… this is funny:

    “I’ve heard Christian complaining for the last four years about straight line speed so I don’t want to go there,” he said. “But as a matter of fact it is where we lost out.”

    1. I like Toto, but this is just hilarious.D

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        22nd July 2018, 13:15

        It’s one thing to blame a supplier. It’s another to blame yourself…..

  10. LOL. I never thought a Mercedes team member would say something along the lines of a ‘lack of straight-line speed.’

  11. Wolff is bluffing! If that Ferrari’s “half a second on straights advantage” he mentioned was anything real, Seb and Kimi would have easily snatched 1-2 in qualifying, which wasn’t the case.

    Truth is, Merc lost the massive advantage they had over their main competitors in the last 3 or 4 seasons and their car is now pretty matched with the Ferrari one. What is making the difference now, is the man behind the wheel and unfortunately for Mercedes, is Ferrari that has the upper hand in that department.

    1. I agree with you @elio that the driver is the decisive element given how close the cars are. But in Silverstone, it’s Hamilton who got the pole. Here it’s Vettel.
      I think it’s closely matched in the driver department too.

      1. @x303 indeed. However, it looks like Vettel has some momentum from these last few races, whereas Hamilton seems to be making some mistakes (the start in Silverstone, the excursions over the kerbs in Q1).

    2. I believe Toto’s data about the time difference on straights are valid. However I suspect that the new power unit’s total contribution on a full lap is less than that. Meaning that Ferrari probably optimized the cars performance on straights, and sacrificed some laptime in the corners since they have a stronger PU now.

  12. The real telling evidence is how the other Ferrari engine cars have shifted up the order, with Haas best of the rest and Sauber consistently making Q2 and Leclerc in Q3. Ferrari has impressively out developed Mercedes on the power unit this year, something that has seemed impossible for the last several years.

  13. I don’t think its 0.5 may be in the region of 0.2/0.3 max but the Ferrari does seem to get a sudden surge of power in the middle of the straights that’s the crazy weird part not on acceleration or end of straight.

    Comparison lap

  14. Hahaha

    /looks at Monaco result

    Yeah, no.

  15. Toto doesnt wanna sound like Horner but instead makes a Mclaren and says he has the best car with an underperformig engine.

    Mercedes is losing 0.5s on straights because of the PU? What utter nonsense….. Red Bulld are the ones losing 0.5s on straights to both Merc and Ferrari.

    1. Toto did not say that they were losing half a second because of the PU at all though @rethla. What he actually mentions is that their cars lose about half a second on the straights but then gain back part of that in the corners, so it is about the difference in the whole car – with the Ferrari’s using their slight advantage in the PU to optimise better for speed in a straight line and the Mercedes probably running a bit more downforce to be withing striking distance of the red cars.

      The Red Bulls are off course somewhat worse off, especially in qualifying the Renault is not able to give much extra, so they are even more focussed on downforce to try and compensate in the corners. But it is still the combination of lower power and downforce (drag) to compensate that makes for these differences.

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