Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Mercedes don’t run engine as hard as Ferrari in practice – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes his team uses lower-power engine modes than rivals Ferrari do in practice sessions.

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What they say

Ferrari were fastest in all three practice sessions in Bahrain and in first practice in China. Wolff was asked if he thinks their rivals are just running their engines harder in practice.

This is what it looks like. They are running the engine harder on Friday and Saturday morning than we do. And it’s not because we want to hold back, but the way our power unit is calibrated is different.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Is Sebastian Vettel putting himself under pressure to emulate Michael Schumacher at Ferrari?

Sometimes we forget how pristine the driver condition must be to deliver a solid campaign. Hamilton had his downs; now that he got his head together, he’s on course of breaking the records people assumed Vettel would.

I believe Vettel is an irresistible force when he’s at his best. The way he drove at 2011 and 2013 is something we could relate to Clark’s symbiosis with his Lotuses, yet no one questions Clark’s abilities or greatness (given the due proportions, of course).

Just like what Hamilton went through, he is at the bottom of his abyss where nothing gets right. And I firmly believe it has greatly to do with the pressure he puts himself to emulate his hero at his very venerated team. Must be tough to handle, mainly if we consider Ferrari has been the challenger, always trying to catch up.

I won’t lie, he’s irritating me with his blunders. He drives so much better than that, and I’m deprived of a proper fight between two of the greats of all time because the guy can’t catch a break from his temper.

But I guess that’s just the way it is.

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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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48 comments on “Mercedes don’t run engine as hard as Ferrari in practice – Wolff”

  1. I get confused with introducing spec two versions of engines.

    Does this mean they have a second power unit locked in and in use as one of their three available?

    I thought as soon as they use an engine in a given spec it is locked in and can’t be modified or upgraded?

    So if they are bringing a spec 2 engine, does this not mean, as I have already said, that they have locked in a second power unit?

    So they now have a Version 1 power unit available and a second Version 2 to use?

    If they have a failure or bring a “version 3” then they will use their last engine allocation?

    I think I got confused by this last year….

    1. @mach1, I’m pretty sure that they can just add it to the pool. RBR did it last year; move back and forth between various PU specs.
      There was a rule in the past which I thought was to make sure that the customer team has the same spec available as the main team. But even in those days it seemed to be voluntary as we saw different cars move to the new spec at different times.
      And spec control might have been tighter when we had the token system.

      1. @coldfly

        That is what I mean… now they have two “active” power units in their pool of three?

        Which means they can use their Spec 2 version, but will have to presumably use their Spec 1 version at some other races.

        Unless the deem the Spec 2 unit such an improvement that it warrants ignoring the Spec 1 and taking a penalty further down the line.

        1. Yes, as far as a perfect development chart would look, I would assume manufacturers would like to end the year with three engines in the pool each of a different spec (as in season development continues both in the power unit and fuel ).

          I’m surprised that manufactures haven’t used this pool arrangement to develop engines for specific collections of tracks, but I’m also a hack so I don’t know. I guess they do to a point, like taking new engines for high horsepower tracks later in the year. Maybe their ability to tune each engine for each track via software does the same job that a mechanically different spec could do.

        2. @mach1, it is expected that Red Bull are likely to take penalties later in the year, as they have previously indicated they are prepared to take additional engine penalties.

          With the top three still having a performance gap over the midfield, the top drivers are still likely to be able to make their way through the field fairly quickly anyway. It means that taking a penalty is less of an issue, and they can trade it off against being able to bring incremental updates on a more frequent basis, as well as being able to run their engines harder if they expect to change them earlier than their rivals.

        3. @mach1 – I think it’ll be a bit of both. Use spec 1 in Monaco (and Singapore?), where PU performance isn’t that big a deal and take a penalty.

          3 PUs in a season means making each one last 7 races.
          4 PUs in a season means making each one last 5 races (plus one more!). Given where Honda are, I think they’d like the comfort of being able to build an engine that’s reliable for 5 races rather than 7.

          To me, building a season’s campaign around 1 engine penalty makes sense.

  2. Meanwhile Indy tests are running right now. Fernando’s car has broken down.

  3. BBC had an article about UAE woman that wakes up after 27 years in a coma with Michael Schumacher picture in it!

    1. Thanks for the tip but that was covered in yesterday’s round-up:

    2. Is there something odd that I’m missing that the article should include an old photo of MS…?

  4. What is Toto trying to say about engine calibration?

    If F1 changed the format to two sprint races across a weekend, would Mercedes not be able to run full power for both races?

    1. I agree, really weird comment, like the engine chooses its own calibration. Last time i checked it was the guys in the pit who chose how to run the engine.

    2. CC and @maisch – My reading of Toto’s comment is that Mercedes don’t need to run their engines harder on Fridays to understand the ideal mapping for quali and the race. At a lower power itself they can get the required engine sensor data, infer from that how the engine performs in higher power modes (and peak quali rpms), and finalize their maps prior to quali.

      The implication being that they have a better virtual model of their engine and its performance, so they need lesser real data to plug into that model to generate the final maps.

      On the other hand, Ferrari likely have to run their engine in a more realistic quali/race manner to generate the engine data they require.

      I base my understanding on the fact that no team would willingly run an engine harder than required on Friday, due to the PU limits situation.

      1. Super answer mate

      2. I base my understanding on the fact that no team would willingly run an engine harder than required on Friday, due to the PU limits situation.

        This. 👌

        Of course some people will react negatively to anything Toto Wolff says for the sole reason that he actually knows how to run his team properly and is successful.

        1. Which all means that as we have seen we are not to be fooled by fast Ferraris on Friday into thinking they have the measure of Mercedes. Merc continues to have the best cars on the grid as they have had for the entire hybrid era, and will likely remain tops through 2020 as Zak Brown predicted two years ago.

          1. @ Robbie
            , Ferrari had the best car in 2018 IMO,

  5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    25th April 2019, 7:11

    I just think Seb’s confidence is low, when a sportsman doubts himself it’s often game over. That can be reversed of course but I’m not sure Ferrari is the right team for that level of support (although there is a different vibe there now). Seb’s weakness is close quarters racing, he’s always had a touch of clumsiness about him. He needs to get back to what he does best……. relentlessly fast and consistent, almost robotic pace.

    1. He needs to get back to what he does best……. relentlessly fast and consistent, almost robotic pace.

      He can only manage that when he’s got a car quicker than the rest. Put it on pole and then set away to the distance. He’s never been a standout performer when it’s close at the top, and I think that’s been pretty apparent throughout his career.

      The only way he’ll get his ‘confidence’ back is when he has a car significantly quicker than the rest.

      1. @todfod
        The vitriol towards Vettel from you is relentless, at some point your dislike towards the guy will eat you up if you continue this way.

        So much anger in any post of yours towards Vettel, looking at your display picture I think is hurt from Vettel beating Alonso.

        1. @rockie

          If someone’s hurting right now.. It’s probably Vettel fans.. Or you.

          I just made a very matter of fact statement about Vettel’s abilities..

          Maybe next time you have something valuable to say or oppose.. State it with facts instead of bitterness

          Vettel beating Alonso.. Yeah.. That’s a real apple to apple’s comparison.

          Your comments are amateurish and pointless.

          1. @todfod

            Your opinion can never be a matter of fact.
            Do not confuse the two, “Vettel fans or me” are not under every article of him crying how good he his or bad he his, but for you, it seems you live for his articles so you can continue to bash the guy!

          2. @rockie

            I don’t need to bash him.. He’s doing it to himself.

            All I stated was that he isn’t all that special without the fastest car underneath him. I don’t see why you’re taking this so personally.

            If you don’t like or agree.. Just move on with your life man.

  6. I share the same sentiments as the COTD. The present-day Seb is far from the 2011 and ’13 version of him who used to win races from pole with quite a margin to the 2nd-placed driver.

    1. the 2011 and ’13 version of [Seb]

      @jerejj – interestingly, in such a discussion, my point of comparison would be the other two championships – 2010 and 2012, where he fought for those to the end and won them. To me, those were the ones that were hard-won, and ones he had a greater hand in. 2011 he didn’t have too much of a challenge (from Ferrari or McLaren), and 2013 RBR’s post-summer car development was just brutal.

      1. @phylyp that’s a valid analysis, although actually I would say 2011 was his finest title winning year, because he really controlled the title from the word go and a number of the races were hard fought (monaco was a battling, if lucky win, spain also required a lot of bottle). although 2010 and 2012 were more of a scrap, championship-wise, his wins tended to be simple pole-to-flag affairs with a handy margin over the rest. in the back end of each of those years, he really maximised what he had, but there weren’t many gritty drives that I recall (3rd place at abu dhabi in 2012 being a great exception).

        2013 was just a total demolition of his team mate in a car that was streets ahead of the rest from mid-season on (when they changed the tyres…) and that 9 win streak should be considered one of the finest achievements in the sport.

        1. Nice points :) @frood19

        2. Got to agree with @frood19 on his viewpoint. I also though the sheer consistency of pole to flag victories was impressive during 2011 and 2013. As you mentioned, taking 9 wins in a row isn’t an easy feat even with a dominant car.

          @phylyp mentioned his 2010 and 2012 fights were closer and he was in the thick of things, yet I don’t really rate Vettel too highly in those championship winning years. In 2010 and 2012, he had a significant machinery advantage on both Ferrari and Mercedes, and he should have never let Alonso get so close to the title in the first place. Vettel put in the performances when they mattered (Abu Dhabi 2010 and Brazil 2012), but his performances over the entire season were nowhere close to Alonso’s and Hamilton’s in those years.

          1. I respectfully disagree. There is a clear element of downplaying a car’s abilities, a game neither Seb nor RBR at the time had any interest in playing, for completly different reasons (Seb just can’t, and RBR didn’t want to for commercial reasons). But the way Alonso described the 2012 Ferrari is really not believable at all.
            People seem to forget that Mark Webber was always considered to be a top driver in the making, somewhat like Dan Ricky, but his reputation suffered in the four years as Seb’s team mate. Still, one needs to take his races and dedication seriously, and then it becomes clear that RBR didn’t have this huge advantage that @todfod sometimes talks about Vettel needing. 2010 RBR was the very slight leader of some really good cars, and 2012 I would still argue McLaren had the better car overall. And even in 2011 and 2013, it was more of a Vettel dominance than a Red Bull one.

    2. If you cannot handle pressure, you’re not good enough.

      1. to win 4 WDCs and one still talks about not handling the pressure?

        He has had a bad time. Let’s wait to see if he can turn this around.

        1. @nagon 4

          The 2012 McLaren was quick over 1 lap,arguably the quickest over 1 lap, but it often struggled in race conditions. The RB had more consistent race pace & better reliability. The RB also had far superior pitwall operations (compared to McLaren). So, overall, the RB was the best package in 2012.

  7. Spec 2 engine could mean anything. Is it the cilinderhead or the pistons, the valves, the crankshaft, the camshaft or any combination. Even the swirl of the exhaustgasses through the ports can be changed just to get more performance. This is also a very interesting part of F1, I really wish to know the details of the inside of the engines.

    1. Agreed. It would be nice to have any information other than only the boring aero stuff… I could take the aero info. if there was something on engines, suspension, occasionally…

  8. Hopefully the chat from Honda is genuine and not just PR guff. Would be nice to six cars wrestling for the front of the grid this weekend.

    1. The nice thing is that what many thought was PR guff particularly from RBR about Honda’s progress going back to last year and this year’s off-season, has proved to not be guff at all, so I would say that they are likely being accurate with these most recent comments.

      1. @robbie – Agreed, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by where Honda are at this season. Come the end of the season, I wonder if Horner will be smirking at Cyril.

        1. @phylyp I wouldn’t be surprised if he is already smirking. After all, this is just 3 races into this relationship.

          1. More than smirking. Soon Horner will be laughing all the way top the podium… ;-)

  9. “Mercedes don’t run engine as hard as Ferrari in practice – Wolff”

    Howling Wolff comments must not be taken seriously.
    Anyway Merc are too good and highly reliable.
    Toto just doing his PR stint so we’ll continue to watch F1.

    Any chance of Charles or Max winning Baku?
    Highly unlikely, really hope I’m totally wrong.

    1. Any chance of Charles or Max winning Baku?

      Either of them on the podium would be good.
      Both on the podium would be excellent.
      Imagine how tremendous a first – second of those two would be …. with a smirking Bottas third :)

    2. This track can bring the unpredictable, so you never know😜

  10. If that 5G sponsored Indycar melts it’s tyres during the race, it might turn out to be the most accurate sponsorship in history.

  11. One thing to note on Toto’s comment: He knows how Mercedes is running their engine on Friday, but only THINKS Ferrari is running their’s harder. His opinion.

  12. Toto is trying to imply Mercedes PU is not as reliable, cannot run party mode in longer duration. Meanwhile, Ferrari PU is superb reliable and able to run party mode 24×7 without fear of failure. Lol.

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