Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Ferrari had a “double whammy” advantage at Spa – Wolff

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described Ferrari’s performance advantage over them in the Belgian Grand Prix as a “double whammy” which wasn’t just down to superior engine power.

Ferrari were tipped for a strong showing at Spa thanks to their recent engine upgrades.

“They have a power advantage, we have seen that in qualifying,” said Wolff. “Their power advantage is at various parts of the straight.

“You can see that even if the [corner] exits are worse than ours the engine keeps pulling.”

Referring to Lewis Hamilton’s post-race remark that Ferrari had found “a few trick things”, Wolff added, “that is nothing that could be a so-called ‘trick’.”

“It might also be related to how you run your engine, how you calibrate it. The same way they de-rated earlier in qualifying yesterday than we did.”

However Wolff admitted there was another reason Hamilton wasn’t able to keep eventual winner Sebastian Vettel behind at the start of the race.

“They have a slight power advantage, and then you add that to our weaknesses out of turn one especially and that causes the double whammy. If you aren’t very good on traction and you’re being out-performed slightly on power, then lap one happens.”

Wolff admitted the team doesn’t fully understand “the ins and outs of their engine.”

“I only see GPS data, and on GPS data you can see that there is a power advantage at certain stages of the lap.”

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Dieter Rencken
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72 comments on “Ferrari had a “double whammy” advantage at Spa – Wolff”

  1. I think Matt Somerfield (somersf1) suggested a theory where Ferrari are getting their rea wing to legally stall at high speed, cutting drag and that would seem to marry up with where they are fast on the straights. Their advantage is very interesting

    1. Interested to know a bit more about this. Stalling a wing at high speed is an interesting concept outside of DRS.

    2. If I’m not mistaken a stalled wing produces less downforce but more drag

        1. Biggsy, can you explain why? A quick search turned out multiple results confirming what I said.

          @rethla it makes sense then if there are ways it can be manipulated

          1. @strontium The ratio of drag to downforce worsens with a stall, but the amount of downforce is lowered so much that you get less drag overall.

      1. Very much so… remember the F duct?

      2. @strontium

        Thats depending on how its stalling. If Ferrari is using this technique it clearly isnt producing more drag for them.

      3. Here’s the theoretical basis and a key application. Only part of the wing is stalled.

        http://www.racecar-engineering.com/technology-explained/f-ducts-how-do-they-work-f1-2010-formula-one-technology/

        If I recall correctly, they have called even DRS “stalling”, but in reality it is reducing the angle of attack and neutralizing part of the wing.

    3. F1 cars are designed to have lots of downforce at medium speeds but lose some downforce and drag at higher speeds. Less drag = higher speeds on straights. Rear wings stalling on controlled manner is nothing new either. Mercedes did that in 2012 when they had a drs that when deployed also opened some other duct in the rear wing end plate. And they had some stalling system in their front wing as well. Lotus even protested that system at one point but the protest did not go through.

    4. @3dom wouldn’t that show on speed traps? Ferrari doesn’t seem to have an advantage at top speed (or when they do it’s usually by 1-2km/h)

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        27th August 2018, 21:18

        @afonic The speed trap for this track is oddly right after Eau Rouge/Raidillon

          1. @afonic Ferrari seem pretty darn high up this speed traps, any increase in speed will help. Admittedly it is just a theory, but apparently the speed plots seem to show that Ferrari gain an increase in speed during the secondary phase of acceleration out of a corner. Use of the wastegates to disturb the flow of air to the underside of the rear wing to stall it and cause an overall reduction in drag could marry up with this.

            The theory is supported by the fact that the advantage doesn’t seem to be available lap after lap (so may be related to charging of the power unit), Ferrari have recently tested a rear wing with the wastegates in closer proximity to the underside of the rear wing, and Ferrari can run more aggressive wing angles and still be high up on the speed traps

  2. What a great job by Ferrari this year. They deserve to win the championship just on the basis of the most improved team.
    Whether they will thats a different story, but hugely impressive.

      1. Yes, it’s easy to overlook that F1 is as much a race with technology as it is on the track. So I guess the old “If you can’t beat them, join them” adage applies. Mercedes are going to have to put in a double battery in their car and get more additives thrown into their 95 Octane petrol.

    1. And what a poor losers Mercedes are; don’t recall them celebrating the ‘double whinny’ they enjoyed the past 4 seasons.

      And how does ‘cry Wolff’ explain both FI’s getting ahead on Kemmel as well?

      1. the same way.

        we have to be fair, wolff is not complaining.

      2. How does this make them poor losers? He’s just explaining where their weaknesses are, probably in response to a question. They did celebrate, they celebrated their success over the last few years.

        The Force Indias had a double and triple slipstream, and they didn’t get ahead

      3. Can’t find another good way to express agreement with @magon4 @strontium so yeah, might as well just put this here.

        don’t recall them celebrating the ‘double whinny’ they enjoyed the past 4 seasons.

        eh, it’s not like they were all doom and gloom in the moments after winning WCC and WDC.

      4. He is not complaning, he is pointing out where they are losing time.

    2. “You can see that even if the [corner] exits are worse than ours the engine keeps pulling.”

      2014 – 2017?

    3. I would have to agree with you there. The fight is strong with them.

  3. Mercedes have squandered this massive horsepower advantage they had.

    They had quite a lot of tricks in 2014-16. Haven’t brought much to the table since then.

    In fact, they had some tricks before 2014 (threatening to leave F1 unless the FIA made engine regulations to their specifications).

    Maybe Mercedes are missing the development input of Nico Rosberg. The man is highly intelligent, has an engineer’s mind, doesn’t spend the off season popping bottles in Miami or Monaco.

    1. I was thinking this also. After all it was his input that helped to develop the monster of a car that the Mercedes is.

    2. How did they squander their advantage, they managed to extend it into three clean sweeps, and a fourth one even as Ferrari was getting close (or maybe even overtaking them last year)? But that’s competition: at some point, someone else will find a way to get the better of you. As a team at the track you could argue they are still doing better than Ferrari, given Hamilton is ahead, which is good if they are now less fast, or the championship would be over, despite Vettel not being faultless at all.

    3. The man is highly intelligent, has an engineer’s mind,

      That is true. It always impresses me that he actually had the possibility to study aeronautical engineering or similar at the Imperial in London but turned it down to keep racing. He surely must have been an ace in all things technical in F1.

      1. Ups, messed up the quotation marks…

    4. To be fair. Anyone who works top-level motorracing would aqcuire high-level knowledge of engineering just by proximity.

      Unless you’re privy to discussions between drivers and engineers, how are you able to quantify ROS engineering knowledge/feedback compared to Ham’s knowledge/feedback. HAM has more experience at high budget teams. It is an interesting assumption… wonder what it is based on.

      1. From what I observe (speech, interviews, lifestyle choices, interests, academic success), Rosberg seems like a more intelligent guy than Hammy.

        Just my opinion. I’m sure some people will disagree with me.

        1. @ anon

          I’m sure you based your judgement on just 1 observation, completely ignoring the fact that Lewis is a 4 x WDC and almost won in his first year when up against 2x WDC Fernando Alonso in the same team with the same gear with the team favouring FA in the first few races.

          My observations lead me to believe it’s Hamikton who is the smarter one of the 2, especially as Rossberg was the one who cheated (Monaco, Spain etc) and constantly studying his team mates lap times to find where to beat him. The smartest thing Rossberg did was to quit while he was ahead.

      2. Weren’t there statements from members of the Williams team saying that he’s the most technically intelligent driver they’ve ever seen?

    5. Rosberg wouldnt make any difference.
      This guys has tons of information to rely on one guy to achieve success or not.

    6. Where were Mercedes when Rosberg partnering Schumacher?

    7. Maybe Mercedes are missing the development input of Nico Rosberg

      Yeah he was always down the engine department designing new parts.

      I do always wonder with the comments about Rosberg that, if they’re true, why his engineers had to compile a dossier on all the reasons Hamilton thoroughly outclassed him in the second race of 2014. He hammered him in only his first first full race distance with the new hybrid car, where as Rosberg 4th or 5th. And everyone beforehand was claiming Rosberg, as the “smarter” one, would deal best with complex new cars.

      Of course if we are going to put stock in this Rosberg theory we are also forced to accept that McLarens downturn and Mercedes upturn in 2013 was down to Hamilton switching his incredible development input between the 2 right?

    8. (threatening to leave F1 unless the FIA made engine regulations to their specifications

      Funny interpretation of history there leaving out it was Renault that wanted the engine change and Ferrari who threatened to walk if it wasn’t V6 instead of the proposed V4

    9. ‘Anon’, Your anti-Hamilton obsession is genuinely funny, almost (but not quite) as funny as your predictions.

      Interesting how even though in your mind Hamilton spends his time off constantly partying how comprehensively superior in every way he must have been to still beat Rosberg most of the time. Can you imagine the drubbing Nico would have had from Lewis if the latter had actually been doing some work?

      1. Hammy lost 1 out of 3 seasons against Rosberg between 2014-16. Vettel or Alonso in that car wins 3 straight championships.

        1. Vettel or Alonso in that car wins 3 straight championships

          Hamilton only lost because of reliability issues. Without those he would have finished the season with a points lead over Rosberg of roughly 2 race wins. You’re mad if you think Vettel or Alonso would have had less mechanical issues in that car.

          1. Hammy lost 2016 to Rosberg because he bottled 7 starts, dropped his lip in Shanghai, crashed in Baku qualifying, crashed into Rosberg in Spain.

            That’s 10 mistakes by my count. He bottled another qualifying session might have been Bahrain.

            Change those things he wins the championship.

            Rosberg showed his superiority leading 9-6 in race wins with four races left.

            Rosberg played it smart and just brought the car home in the remaining four races.

            Hammy tried everything (like creating an accident behind him in Abu Dhabi), but Rosberg was too good in the end.

        2. We know why he lost, all being equal he would have won all 4 years versus Rosberg.

          You are speculating wildly predicting what would have happened with Vettel or Alonso, and you know you are.

          Your Hamilton hatred is amusing in its way, but affects your logic and makes you look foolish.

  4. @anon I highly doubt Nico Rosberg would make any difference.

    The engineering masterminds work in the factory, not behind a steering wheel.

  5. I think they had a quadruple whammy, superior traction out of turn one, better power, Hamilton poor through Eau Rouge and a good slipstream.

    This combination allowed Vettel to sail by easily and control the race from there.

    1. I think this is pretty much it. Even the Force India cars took advantage of the slips and nearly took both Seb and Lewis!

  6. Come on, stop it! Better let us know about the super-duper-triple-whammy HAM had at the 2017 US GP, for example.

    1. I mean it wouldn’t be his job so no reason to get too riled up over that.

  7. I think, Wolff and Co simply had it too good for 3 years, when they were the class of their own, and now they are having troubles coping with what is, in fact, a proper competition. Ferrari and Merc cars are very envenly matched – just look at the results of dry sessions. Or the first race stint, when Seb and LH were lapping within thousands of each other. And that is over ca. 7 km track, incredible stuff.

  8. How about Ferrari’s aero profile? Low drag.

  9. Finally Vettel could beat Hamilton!

    He just needed a lot of help, like more power, and better aero, besides that he did all by himself. Wow what a driver… he is really good att winning with when advantaged.

    1. Now the cars are finally evenly matched we’re seeing who the best driver is :)

      1. Especially in the rain.

      2. You’re think of 2017 mate ;)

  10. A certain degree of complacency, or lack of innovation, always seeps in when you’ve been dominating. That’s the situation Mercedes are finding themselves in. They’ve stuck with what works and developed further on it up until the point in time that a competitor’s radical solution starts beating them.

    Ferrari have done a stellar job since last year. They took an innovative approach with chassis design, and they found every possible loop hole within the engine regulations to overtake Mercedes. Now, they’re the team to beat.

    If Ferrari fail to win both titles this year.. it will be down to the drivers.

    1. I think partly it is that when teams are successful, and Mercedes has certainly been that, the teams have a tendency to keep going down the same successful roads. The teams that are not successful (Ferarri has been great, but “success” in F1 is measured by being #1) have a greater incentive to look at new ideas and take risks at something new.

  11. How many whammies of advantage did Mercedes have during 2014-16? Double-quadruple?

    The noises since yesterday indicate that Mercedes can’t take losing very well.

  12. I’m surprised that Mercedes, knowing the top speed advantage that Ferrari currently enjoy, didn’t simply take some wing off. They had the most downforce of any team in the race and yet couldn’t hope to keep Ferrari behind. It’s lucky for them Kimi was out of play.

    There is no doubt they have a ‘trick’ car, ‘trick’ being slang for ‘neat’, ‘nice’, ‘cool’ etc… Very commonly used in some circles.

    They know where they lose out, so compensate. Doesn’t matter if you’re slow in the middle sector if you’re able to hold them back on the straight.

    DRS also robbed us of a lot of racing on Sunday, but not between Merc and Ferrari.

    1. If it where “that simple”, I would be surprised all the others team, knowing the speed advantage of the Mercedes’ in 2014-2016, simply took some wing off..

    2. But that extra wing is the sole reason they were so good in the wet. Had they taken some wing off, bye bye pole positions in Hungary and Spa. It worked out for them in Hungary, but obviously backfired in Spa due to the poor performance of LH on the first lap. Most likely, what they were hoping for is to do what Vettel did in his Red Bull years, when his car had good aero but was not so good down the straights – take pole, pull away using clean air and keep the advantage.

      1. That tactic works at Hungary, doesn’t work at Spa with the straights.

        It won’t work at Monza, either.

        1. Worked for Vettel and Red Bull at Monza in 2011 and 2013 though, did it not? But naturally Merc does not have as much aero advantage over Ferrari, if at all, as Red Bull had over other contenders back then, so obviously this week at Monza Merc will have to run their wings very similar to Ferrari’s. Unless, of course, it will be raining.

  13. Great for Ferrari but what good is it when they have one driver doing his job and the other is always somehow at the back.

    It’s time for Ferrari to drop pensioner Kimi already.,

    1. It wasn’t RAI’s fault that HUL, well, yeah. (nor was it when he ran out of fuel)

      1. Tired of watching Kimi just go through the motions and waste a great car. Why not give someone like Perez an opportunity.

        1. Me too. And still wondering the same thing although I know the answer for too many years now: might end up in a situation like 2007 HAM vs ALO = champ losing situation. Same thing with Mercedes since ROS retired. Some saw in Bottas a bright star since his Williams days, I failed to see that and the current situation proved me right. My impression is that with improved race craft and same machinery, VER would beat HAM or VET without much trouble. If I were Ferrari’s boss I’d try to get Leclerc and if he delivers, then probably get rid of VET too and back-up LEC completely. RBR showed with VET that speed is more important than experience. The experience will come in time anyway, not the speed. So, a fast “nobody” might become champ overnight if the car has potential too. HAM in 2008 (and almost in 2007) and VET are one of the best examples.

          1. LEC has proven nothing so far. I don’t see why he should get promoted over Perez who was also a Ferrari academy driver.

    2. I think dropping Kimi is about 3 seasons too late, personally. I like the guy… but until he starts winning races I am firmly in the camp of no more Kimi at Ferrari.

  14. The onboard from Hamilton showed he only used 7th gear when Vettel passed. Looks like a race-deciding mistake.

  15. I feel Vettel has been integral to how good the car has become. Not only direct input, but also helping steer the team philosophy to end the blame game that Prost and Lauda talked about was plaguing the team, and it seems to have worked. Remember him standing by his team leader when Marchionne was talking tough and ready to do the traditional Italian decimation, and despite his occasional outburst have been generally very supportive.

    They say Schumacher built up Ferrari, and even though it’s of course limited what a driver can do, I really believe Vettel has almost done as much as Michael here. Matching and beating the mighty Mercedes at the height of their power is no mean feat. I doubt the Ferrari would be on this level of performance with any other current driver.

    1. @balue I have to agree that the way Vettel has stood by the team when they’ve had difficulties has been very commendable.

      The fight that Ferrari has brought to get them in front in terms of performance is a fantastic effort. I think the change of regulations in 2017 certainly helped them catch up, but since then their development teams have performed amazingly!

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