Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2019

Straight-line speed is Mercedes’ “biggest weakness” to work on

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In the round-up: Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes will prioritise improving the its straight-line speed with its new car for the 2020 F1 season.

What they say

Bottas was asked what areas Mercedes can improve on next season:

I think mechanically and aerodynamically in terms of cornering performance and overall grip it’s been a big strength for for us [in 2019]. And we’ve been [able] also to unlock many issues we’ve had before like slow-speed cornering. For example like Monaco has been tricky previously but now we’ve kind of been able to be competitive there as well.

So in terms of the chassis side, we’ve made really solid progress. Obviously it can always be better but I think still lots of things we can do better around the efficiency, possibly with the aero.

And I’m sure with the power unit we are also pushing flat-out because we know that the biggest weakness we have now compared to some other teams is just the straight-line performance. And for that there’s only two things, it’s the drag and it’s the power. So those kind of things we are focussing as well for next year.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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  • 35 comments on “Straight-line speed is Mercedes’ “biggest weakness” to work on”

    1. It would be hard to imagine that Mercedes haven’t already got a plan to address any weakness (if any really) that they had last season.

      I suspect that their biggest fear may in fact be that Ferrari get their act together in terms of strategy and team management as that really has been the biggest difference between them rather than anything technical.

      1. I think they are more afraid of red bull and max. When there are no aero changes red bull always refines there chassis to to near perfection, and if Honda finally gives them an engine capable of fighting for poles (party modes), then they are the ones Mercedes will fear the most.
        Ferrari are a bit of an mistery next season, since those technical directives they did went down hill no matter what they said, so it’s gonna be interesting to find out were they are going to be in the pecking order next year. All points out to this season being the most competitive in the hibrid era so far, but this is F1, so we will never know what can really happen in a new season.

        1. +1 , Ferrari will always mange to shoot their foot one way or other. 2020 seems like a good year for RBR to challenge Mercs for title given the Honda deliver on their promise. Otherwise it will be the year when Lewis will be setting all time records for F1.

      2. Drivers always want more power but I’m sure that in retrospective Bottas and Hamilton realise that you can’t have it all. I’m sure that if Merc was to drop that cupboard from the side of the car they would match Ferrari down the straights.
        Nice to see sophia and peroni do well, most people can’t attain the medical care required to overcome injuries that would, without proper care, end up being irreversible.

        1. Straight line speed might be their ‘biggest weakness’ but it is not like it has been a big weakness that has really caught them out and is a huge concern. Not like they blew their design or risked a concept that didn’t pan out and have to go back to the drawing board in desperation. And they sure don’t want to mess with their slow corner speeds that they are happy about, because one thing that helps straight line speed is exiting the corner that precedes the straight line with good speed.

    2. Regarding the super-license points system article from five years ago, the notable thing is that based on the original details/aspects of it, Kubica would’ve been unable to return for last season, as he hadn’t done at least 15 F1 races over the three previous seasons (2016-18)

      As for the COTD: That’s a possibility.

    3. Straight line speed doesnt win championships. Its downforce. Its been like this for decades. The same headline could have been written about Red Bull in 2010-2013.

      Any changes you make to the aero rules, the teams will find a way around it. If you want to really change this, the tracks would need to be different.

      Its a shame that we dont have a bigger variety. Or more interesting tracks that just dont reward only downforce. Something like the old version of hockenheim where top speed would really pay off for a smaller team that dont have so much downforce.

      F1 cars are designed to be the fastest on the 21 tracks that the calendar is made up of. They will always reflect that. The only other way is to go towards spec series. Which is what Liberty are doing. Its much easier than changing the calendar (for many reasons).

      1. @vjanik Not entirely. It is never just one thing that wins Championships, like downforce as you claim. And it is not just about the tracks either.

        No, Liberty are not making F1 a spec series to compensate for the tracks. If they were making it too spec the teams would not have signed on and Liberty/Brawn would have had to back off on that and there would have been further negotiations over that aspect. There are more spec parts indeed, but those are not parts that make a big differentiation between the teams anyway. These are the low hanging fruit types of spec components that don’t disrupt the DNA of F1 whatsoever by making them spec. That is why the teams are on board.

        Regarding tracks though, I think it is very important to appreciate that the 2021 cars are going to be entirely different and unlike anything we have seen before in F1. So I anticipate much more exciting and close racing at many more tracks and at many more parts of the tracks, so I think the new cars are going to change completely what we think of the tracks used in F1.

        The real main culprit for decades now regarding cars has been the dependence on aero downforce via wings that resultingly need clean air to perform at their utmost. By going away from clean air dependence Liberty and Brawn have thankfully tackled and addressed the biggest issue in F1 cars-wise, and I envision a domino effect where cars meant to race closely will beget a much more enthralling show, which will beget a bigger audience, which will beget more sponsors and more teams interested in joining F1. A healthier entity overall.

        1. @robbie I never said “entirely”.

          I hope you’re right. lets see where we are in 10 years.

          1. @vjanik Fair comment you’re right that you didn’t say entirely.

            As to 10 years, yeah it certainly is fascinating to imagine that, but I’m just totally stoked about the first race of 2021, and then 10 races in from that, let alone 10 years from now.

        2. @robbie, the specification of the floor of the car, which remains the most dominant aerodynamic surface and a component that could have been a significant performance differentiator, is effectively a standardised part in all but name only – the variation in profile that the teams can make is so tightly constrained that it effectively forces the teams into a standard specification for that component.

          1. I really do not think that will hold for a entire season. How tight the rules can be, there always will be a hole to find and a really own interpretation of the prescribed form factor.

          2. @anon So not that unlike the way it is now and why unpainted F1 cars are barely distinguishable from each other due to the specs they have to follow. Bottom line for me I am not concerned about F1 becoming too spec in 2021.

    4. Ferrari will stay on top regarding straight speed. RedBull will stay on top regarding cornering speed.

      But that didn’t help them much in 2019. Championships are won based on the sum of engine-chassis-driver-strategy, and so far Mercedes was the only one to get it all together.

      Ferrari spent 2019 learning strategy. RedBull and Honda learning PU reliability. It will be good entertainment to watch them applying it in 2020. If all works fine, it will be nail biting all the way to November.

      1. Let’s not forget Ferrrari only has that advantage because of their shady practice of burning oil.

        They may find better ways to hide this, but their reliance on this shady technology has been patently obvious over recent years. Its been something of an in joke in fact.

        Mercedes should be working on their energy recovery systems and its contribution to speed,
        eg how best to deploy this during the race.

    5. Always fascinated by Mercedes ability to downplay their own performance. For a few years now they’ve won both titles with relative ease, with a car that’s either a good head and shoulders better than the field or one that at least has a considerable edge over it. Fair play to them, well done for building it but sometimes I’d rather they owned it and just admitted how good it is, rather than fall over themselves trying to paint themselves as some sort of plucky underdog.

      1. Mercedes’s car has been efficient , together with a driver line up, especially Lewis , and strategists that more often than not get it right. They have not had a car that has been miles ahead of the competition since maybe 2014 to 2016. It looks that way with hindsight, as Ferrari continued, and repeated failures, both as a team and their drivers, especially Vettel make Mercedes look more acomplished than it should be if they got their act together for the whole season, and not just for a few races.

        1. And that’s just blatantly incorrect. The 2017 Mercedes was just as dominant as the 2014-16 cars with only Vettel’s individual brilliance creating something resembling a championship battle. Whilst F1 fandom loathes Vettel and loves to elevate Hamilton and thus will never willingly admit it, Vettel’s 2017 performance was on par or even slightly superior to Alonso in 2012 given the relative advantage of the best car. Outside of early 2018 before Ferrari misstepped in their development, Mercedes still had and have a car that is significantly superior to the competition.

          1. Big ol’ roflcopter.

          2. Vettel’s 2017 performance was on par or even slightly superior to Alonso in 2012 given the relative advantage of the best car

            @klon I hope you’re being sarcastic here

          3. @klon The brilliance of having a road rage incident purposefully crashing into Hamnilton in Baku? Crashing in turn 1 of Canada? Crashing into Verstappen and Raikkonen in Singapore? Crashing into Verstappen and Hamilton in Mexico? Plus going full tilt on a extremely long stint in Silverstone and then act surprised when the tyre blew?

            Vettel wasted a ton of points on dumb blunders. Just Baku and Singapore were already enough to cost him the title and then he piled a lot more on top for good measure.

          4. The 2017 Mercedes was just as dominant as the 2014-16 cars with only Vettel’s individual brilliance creating something resembling a championship battle

            I’m sorry,but you’d have to be out of your mind the think the 2017 Merc was as dominant as the 2014-2016 Mercs. I genuinely hope you are being sarcastic with your comment. The W08 had a very small qualifying advantage but the SF70H was kinder on tyres with better cornering. The two cars were often a match in race trim. According to AMuS, it was 50/50 on race pace. As for 2018, the Ferrari was just as good as the Merc,

            The Mercs 2014-2016 were untouchable, but their car lost their dominant pace from 2017 onwards. The reason as to why Mec easily won in both 2017 & 2018 is because Ferrari, & especially Vettel, made so many mistakes (despite the Sf70H & SF71H being on par with the W08 & W09). With less mistakes from Vettel, 2017 & 2018 title fights should’ve gone down to the wire.

      2. Bottas was asked what areas Mercedes can improve on next season

        @rocketpanda It’s easy to find different meanings when reading print. Bottas was responding to a question, most of his response focused on the positive aspects of the car, he just answered the question where they could improve. Mercedes have downplayed their performance at times, but this response isn’t one of those instances, it’s unfair to tar all Mercedes-affiliated responses with the same brush

        1. @3dom I don’t disagree with what you are saying wrt the comment by @rocketpanda but I don’t disagree with his comment either. Yeah it may have been slightly misplaced on this specific quote from VB, unlike many others by others on the team, but I do think it is taking a bit of license for VB to say anything on their 2019 car had a ‘biggest weakness.’ More accurately I would think their slightly less straight line speed would have been termed a slight weakness by VB, and calling it their ‘biggest weakness’ conjures an image that they have several weaknesses such that one can be singled out as ‘biggest.’ Hard to imagine that any weaknesses they had in 2019 weren’t just a few tweaks away…ie. I doubt they have felt the need to make drastic changes to the car for this coming season because of some ‘big’ design flaw that had them suffering all season. Not saying that is what VB is saying at all, and he is indeed just answering the question, but I just think what he calls a ‘biggest weakness’ the other teams wish was their biggest issue…a few kph less top speed…and everything else pretty solid and WCC level.

          1. @robbie but they have to approach it like that coz as you know, in F1, if you’re not moving forwards, you get left behind. So it may be a luxury for some teams to have few weaknesses, but they’re ruthless and they want to do everything possible to remain champions. That’s why they’ve been so successful.

            1. @robbie, I know there is a yearning for many to see Merc knocked off top spot, and I know that the early 2019 bluffing doesn’t help them but it’s gotten to the stage where even when they don’t say anything wrong, people look to slate them, I’m just bemoaning that trend

            2. @3dom Fair comments.

      3. @rocketpanda

        For a few years now they’ve won both titles with relative ease, with a car that’s either a good head and shoulders better than the field or one that at least has a considerable edge over it.

        Actually, clearly Ferrari had the better car in 2018. In 2017 the cars were on par. So they didn’t have it easy because of the car being better than the rest of the field. It’s just that the Ferrari driver(s) kept throwing away races.

        Even in 2019 most races Mercedes wasn’t top dog. In 2019 Ferrari and Red Bull were an utter mess at times, but also potentially both had very fast cars that was competitive enough to take the win.

        Red Bull was much faster on race pace for several races in a row and Ferrari had the outright fastest car for most of the second half of the season. Especially Ferrari should potentially have been able to mount some WDC challenge. If they had a driver of Hamilton’s level.

        Either way it was not at all ot like Mercedes would appear at the track and simply win. Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Hungary, Russia, Japan, Mexico are all races which Mercedes weren’t expected to win. That’s half of the races which they won!

        Then there are 6 more which they didn’t win (of which only Germany was really the only one they could/should have won)

        So realistly only about a third of the races was a slam dunk for Mercedes.

        1. Well Mercedes have struggled at Mexico for a few years now. And didnt they win at Russia and japan? And they got beat to pole by Ferrari but it’s pretty clear Ferrari only got pole because of their shady engine. They won at Hungary and finished over 30 seconds ahead of Ferrari. Not sure why people act like Ferrari could have won at baku… they got nowhere near Mercedes during the race. At Canada Ferrari beat them to pole but it was pretty clear during the race Mercedes had the faster car. Bahrain is the only race out of the ones you mentioned were Ferrari were clearly faster. Mercedes biggest weakness was straights and high altitude and hot temperatures. Oh and redbull was faster in race pace? Yeah that isnt true. After the summer break they may have been faster in some races but before then?? Nope.

    6. Vettel’s 2017 performance was on par or even slightly superior to Alonso in 2012 given the relative advantage of the best car

      @klon I hope you’re being sarcastic here

      1. That was two years ago, Vettel was good then :D

    7. I still can’t digest how Ferrari able to won Singapore race with best straight-line speed but worst cornering among the three teams…

      1. How is that so difficult to “digest”? It’s a track where you can’t overtake. Actually a lot of straights and no fast corners (where downforce really counts). Plus some massive strategic blunders from Mercedes.

      2. Well if you believe Ferrari or pundits it was because of their magic aero updates. If you pay attention and aren’t a Ferrari fan…. youd know the reason the won at Singapore is because they used their shady engine to get pole and were so slow diring the race no other team could undercut them because of traffic.

    8. Sophia Floersch = simply unbelievable. Well done!!!!

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