Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2019

Mercedes are slower in Austria than they were last year

Lap time watch: 2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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Last week Mercedes trimmed 1.7 seconds off the previous quickest lap at Paul Ricard. But at the Red Bull Ring the team is slower than it was 12 months ago.

Last year Valtteri Bottas took pole position with a lap of 1’03.130. Today the team’s best lap was 0.132 seconds shy of that.

Why? Team principal Toto Wolff says the hot temperatures this year combined with the relatively high altitude of the track is a combination which doesn’t suit Mercedes well. That could come back to haunt them later in the year at the races in Mexico and Brazil, which take place on even higher circuits and often in similarly hot conditions.

Mercedes aren’t the only team lapping slower than they did 12 months ago. So are Haas – despite Kevin Magnussen’s encouraging fifth-quickest time in qualifying – and perennial 2019 strugglers Williams.

On average this year’s cars are around four-tenths of a second faster than last year, but there is a large variation between tracks like Paul Ricard (1.7s faster) and Shanghai (0.4s slower).

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The modest improvement in lap time compared to last year means we are still some way off seeing a sub-60 second lap at the track with the shortest lap time on the grand prix calendar.

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2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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12 comments on “Mercedes are slower in Austria than they were last year”

  1. F1oSaurus (@)
    29th June 2019, 20:30

    Mercedes should demand that the 2018 tyres are to be used again!

    1. I think they are nursing the new PU. They keep rep!acing the “hydraulics” on both cars. for the first time Mercedes is not 100% in control, the new PU has been giving issues on both racing . and mercedes.

    2. Hot temperatures this year, combined with the threat to make the races more interesting without the need to change rulebook?

  2. Didn’t Toto also say he has ‘the best drivers’?
    So even with Mercedes losing some of their massive advantage, they will still win these altitude races.

  3. Ferrari engine is unquestionably the most powerful. All Ferrari customer teams are up there as well.
    2 poles in the last 3 races for Ferrari and some people think Ferrari are miles off the pace. Again a brilliant chance for Ferrari to score their first win of the season (i am rooting for Charles to win this one) and if they dont win its the same old complaints from some fans ‘Mercedes are miles ahead’, ‘the season is boring’.

    1. Yes, when it comes to wasting chances ferraris are doing well, just check how q1 and q2 went, and notice vettel’s mechanics working around his car at the end of q2 and then not taking part in q3 when even I, one of those who never underestimates mercedes, knew it was a good chance of pole for ferrari, and you see they already threw away a front row lockout, and even that wouldn’t be enough to ensure a ferrari win.

    2. I hardly believe things are that simple: only engine related. 10HP, more or less, is not that important for a 950-1000HP engine. I’m pretty sure it’s the rest of the car at fault too, the way it works with the tyres, track conditions etc. Funny, last year, when Haas seemed to be the best of the rest, many jumped to the conclusion: it’s the 2017 Ferrari! Last race, when they were quite a disaster, nobody made the connection with Ferrari anymore. It cannot be only the engine when they’re performing well and only the rest of the car when they’re performing poorly.

  4. Only Leclerc managed to beat the 2018 pole time, which coincidently was also the case in Bahrain where he achieved his first pole. If only he had improved by four more thousands from his earlier Q3-run so that we could’ve had the first-ever sub-1m03s lap time around Red Bull Ring.
    ”often in similarly hot conditions.” – That doesn’t really apply to Mexico, though.

  5. I don’t really believe this, but sometimes after a period of dominance and a bunch of internet outrage about how boring the race was Mercedes suddenly seems to dial it back a bit. 2015 comes to mind. After a few races that year the basement dwellers were calling for weight penalties and all sorts of handicaps for Merc. Then all of the sudden they weren’t quite as fast as they used to be.

    1. Yes, this could be, the championship is already over anyway (not mathematically but realistically), so they have “nothing” to lose, apart from the win % record in a season, ferrari and red bull are realistically racing to try and get some win.

  6. Honestly, I am sure they just turned their engines down a little bit this weekend. Give the other teams the illusion they have caught up, then MB gets more credibility for the 2021 rules, tire regulations and better PR. They don’t have anything to lose, they are comfortably ahead in the championships. Expect them to be unbeatable again after a few races.

    1. Pierce Wiederecht
      30th June 2019, 7:48

      Merc wants to win EVERY SINGLE SESSION. If they turned their engines down it’s because they have reliability worries. I’m not surprised that they’re slower this year as draggy as their car is. The downforce that they traded for that drag doesn’t help quite as much here. Slow corners have been their main advantage all season but 3 and 4 are the only really slow corners here. If you actually think about it, this track just doesn’t play to their strengths at all.

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