Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Interlagos, 2019

Bottas: Red Bull quicker than Mercedes on the straights now

2019 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas fears Red Bull now have a straight-line speed advantage over Mercedes.

He said their rival’s performance at Interlagos showed the progress they have made in an area which used to be Mercedes’ key strength.

“We knew they would be strong, but I think they were even stronger than we expected,” said Bottas. “Especially in a straight line.

“They have a good car in the corners now but in a straight line they are better than us now. It used to be pretty similar to us.”

Bottas predicted a “very close” three-way fight between Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari in next week’s season finale at Yas Marina.

“It’s obviously track with a combination, quite a bit of corners and also straights,” he said. “At least we are on sea level which seems to work better for us.”

The top three teams are closer in performance now than they were at the beginning of the season. But Bottas says that doesn’t necessarily mean the beginning of next year will be as competitive.

“If you look at the beginning of the season to the end of the season, I think Red Bull has made some solid progress. So if you would draw that graph till next year, yes.

“But obviously it’s a completely new season with a new car. I’m sure every team has made progress, including us, with their new car that is going to be there in testing.

“So it’s impossible to predict, really. Everyone starts from zero, even though there’s not many regulation changes it’s still new cars.”

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33 comments on “Bottas: Red Bull quicker than Mercedes on the straights now”

  1. They’re cheating, of course. Just as Mercedes cheated between 2014 and 2016 when their PU was way ahead everybody else regarding the consumption.

    1. Or Mercedes and Ferrari stopped cheating..

      1. I agree, i think those dirrctives from FIA really helped Redbull to show what Honda engine can do, Ferrari and Mercedes were definitely cheating.

      2. Or having won the Championship Mercedes are driving much older engines.

        Look how many times their rivals have changed engines to conceed track position.
        I have the feeling Mercedes is making do with old stock, which would also explain why Bottas engine failed last week.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          24th November 2019, 9:14

          Exactly! They are only allowed to use 3 engines and Mercedes was attempting that. While Gasly was on his 7th engine already.

          Plus Mercedes already conceded that their turbo design isn’t well suited for high altitudes.

        2. Ajaxn I doubt VB would be making claims about Honda’s progress if it was down to they themselves using older engines. Championships or not I doubt they would feel any need to just back off and phone it in and end the season that way.

          As to changing engines to concede track position? That’s allowed and is part of the current game and there are penalties for that. Max has managed to put himself into third in the WDC ahead of the two Ferraris including being penalized for component over-usage. But then they (RBR) said from the start of the season that they would gladly take component penalties if they were showing pace and progress at the same time.

          1. Bottas is just commenting on the situation as it is now.

            Yes RedBull may well be faster on the staights, given what Mercedes currently uses in competition, that’s not to say Mercedes isn’t doing what it so often does, eg hiding its true form. As for conceding track position to upgrade an engine or a gear box. Mercedes are more likely to do this where the track allows them to over take, and where they stand a chance of regaining the lost positions.

            There’s a handful of tracks which allows this and they ironically tend to be at the start of the season, and possibly at the start of the second half of the season. If these over taking tracks were towards the end of the season more manufacteures might be tempted to play their hand early, knowing the remain track will at least allow some on track fights for position. just a thought.

    2. @mg1982
      A few technical directives aimed at the cheaters and suddenly Honda is on par….hmmm.
      To bad for all the Mercedes, Ferrari, Lewis, Vallteri, Sebastian, Charles and Kimi fans but it’s looking more and more as if all their results in the hybrid era are as fraudulent as Lance Armstrong’s 7 tour de France wins!

      1. And Nico’s ofcourse.

    3. Merc is till the best PU, anyone would still pick merc, this years upgrades were weak though. If Merc were to drop half of the shelves they have hanging from the car they would be quick on the straights.

      1. hahaha, to be completely fair, I think they’ve been focusing on 2020 for the past few months

    4. @mg1982, so you’re discounting the fact that Mercedes had adopted a more advanced fuel injection system than their rivals – the turbulent jet ignition (TJI) system that Mahle had in development at the time, the primary purpose of which was to improve combustion efficiency and allow for lean air-fuel mixtures to be used without causing combustion instability – back in 2014?

      1. old news..

        Revealed: TJI engine update
        by Mark Hughes on 10th May 2016

        UPDATE: Mercedes introduced TJI concept to F1 in 2014. Ferrari 2015. Renault Canada 2016-onwards.

    5. If your not pushing the rules well into the grey areas then your not properly developing the car and associated systems. All forms of motorsport do the same thing, it’s their job to exploit the rules. Ferrari, Merc is no different than any other team when it comes to development, Ferrari exploited the rules they did not break a rule or regulation if one did not exist.

  2. Typical Mercedes “they are better than us” bluff. As they played Ferrari in Barcelona during winter testing. Toto’s Moto.

    Or those technical directives backfired somehow. But mostly I think is season’s end with very old PUs for Mercedes.

    Honda had fresh units the whole year, due to the updates.

    1. I think it’s the age of the power units as much as anything.
      I’m sure Ferrari were doing something wrong, but Mercedes are so good on reliability that their engines are very old.

      I’m certain that both Ferrari and Honda have made great strides, but to compare you would need fresh engines in all cars.

    2. I’m sure that Mercedes have said that higher altitude impacts their engines more relative to their rivals. Reason being that their turbo runs closer to the 125,000rpm limit so can’t compensate as well at higher altitudes. Coupled with the engines having more mileage on them I think that could explain it. I would suspect a fresh engine at sea level could change the order again.

    3. Typical Mercedes “they are better than us” bluff. … Or those technical directives backfired somehow.

      Yes to both

  3. “It used to be pretty similar to us.” No Valtteri, you used to be miles and miles ahead of RB in engine power and straight-line speed for 5 years straight.

    1. Even his Williamscar was blazing on the straights.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        23rd November 2019, 17:54

        but this was far more related to the lack of downforce than the engine.

        1. @thegianthogweed
          That concept worked pretty good for Williams back then so it wasnt “lacking” much. Mercedes on the other hand have never been blazing on the straights even though they had the best engine since 2014. They mostly used their extra power to corner faster with more aero so i dont really know what Bottas is going on about here to be honest. The RB simply have more effective aero allowing them to run lower drag on straights and still match Mercedes in the corners. With an engine thats catching up that makes them faster.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            24th November 2019, 9:18

            The williams was awful at certain tracks though. So i still think they had a lack of downforce, which actually helped at other tracks back then.

            I think I understand Where Bottas is coming from with them being quicker on the straights though. Gasly was as fast or slightly faster than Hamilton at the end of the race. I am starting to think Honda could almost be equal to mercedes but especially Red Bull have found a way to make themselves faster on the straights as well as be very competitive everywhere else.

            This happened at many tracks. Verstappen clearly had the best car out there last time out. What Bottas is saying isn’t that unrealistic. He also says that it is impossible to predict what it will be like. So surely that shows he is just guessing?

          2. @thegianthogweed Yeh but Mercedes has been outrun on the straights for a long time, its in the corners everyone is catching up. RB has the speed record with Renault as an example.

  4. Now they need to make an engine that lasts 7 races instead of 3.

  5. It would be interesting to know how many times the various teams have changed engines, and which teams/drivers have taken grid penalties because of this.

    Does anyone know where i can find this?

  6. NeverElectric
    24th November 2019, 1:55

    Looking at the drag race between Hamilton and Gasly at the end of the race in Brazil, it was clear that the Honda engine was no slouch. But I think the circuit exaggerated the abilities of the Honda engine a little, given the altitude…but the Honda is no pushover.

  7. Mercedes did in the 2018 season in qualifying in Brazil a 1:07.281(pole) and this year they did a 1:07.699.
    That is 0.418 second slower with a one year newer engine. So the altitude and older engine comments are total bs.
    After the FIA’s technical directives it’s very suspicious that Ferrari and Mercedes are a lot slower.
    If in Abu Dhabi shows again that the Mercedes and Ferrari lost their leading advantage it’s very clear they were cheating.

    1. you are so funny actually. the rules WERE CHANGED from 2018 to 2019 and FIA/Teams predicted the cars would be 3 seconds slower per lap this year due to all the loss of downforce. Teams couldn’t reach their 2018 lap times in many circuits including Brasil, go check the facts.

    2. Johnny H., the problem with your theory is that almost every single team was setting slower lap times in Interlagos in 2019 compared to 2018.

      By your logic, should we conclude that Honda and Renault must also have been cheating because both Renault and Toro Rosso were also slower in Interlagos in 2019 than they were in 2018, despite also bringing in new engines?

  8. Mercedes are not the only ones. Most teams have generally been slower this year. And it goes from the start of the year.
    Ferrari have had a signifikant drop in performance sine the new engene clarifications, but the RB has been a match to the MERC before!.
    Honda are making steady progress, but Gasly was on his 7th engene og the year and Lewis on his 3rd…..

  9. Pretty sure Mercedes stopped developing the car shortly after the summer break, their constructors lead was insurmountable so might as well go for W11.

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