Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Mugello, 2020

Mercedes’ advantage cut to lowest level of 2020 so far at Mugello

Lap time watch: 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ rivals are closer to them at Mugello than they have been at any other track so far this season.

On average, Mercedes were 0.759 seconds quicker than their rivals at the six circuits F1 visited before the Tuscan track. But Red Bull lapped just 0.327s slower than them in qualifying today. That was in Q2, when Max Verstappen lapped fractionally quicker than he managed in during the pole position shoot-out.

It’s potentially a positive sign for how competitive the rest of the season may be. Particularly if the shift in performance has come about as a result of the banning of engine ‘quali modes’, and isn’t simply peculiar to the unusual configuration of Mugello, which is entirely mid-to-high speed corners. We won’t get a reading on that for the next few races.

There was encouragement for Ferrari as well, who are back in the thick of the midfield fight following their terrible outings at Spa and Monza.

Mugello is one of the fastest tracks F1 will race on this year. Lewis Hamilton’s average lap speed of 251.277kph is quicker than his pole position time from Spa, and just 0.387kph than he managed at Silverstone.

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    Keith Collantine
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    14 comments on “Mercedes’ advantage cut to lowest level of 2020 so far at Mugello”

    1. Williams no longer in Q2, Racing Point not guaranteed to be ahead of the mid-field. Just coincidence right?

      1. It’s also a high-downforce track, which isn’t great for Williams.

    2. I’ll be interested to see relative performances over the race.
      In Monza, it seemed the Mercedes powered cars had quite an advantage.

    3. This reminds me of an interview with the Brawn GP crew, 10 years after their victory. Many of them confessed the car performance was so good, they started the year sandbagging so not to start a massive complaint from the rivals. Mercedes will slow down just as much as they need to avoid more lobbies against them, but they are still fast enough to walk away with both championships.

      1. Agree, and don’t forget they don’t have their “party mode”.

    4. I say Verstappen is in striking range.

      Also those engine maps did hurt Mercedes, especially on a track dominated by efficient Aero. Not that Mercedes are not class leading, their engine is not helping them as much.

      In the race I suspect they’ll be just fine upfront. But if tires start to fall apart Max will be there.

      1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        13th September 2020, 5:35

        Hotter temps are predicted on race day, so it might just be that Merc decided to focus on race pace and tyre degradation, which may have cost them a tenth or two in qualifying.

    5. It looks like a pretty normal trend to me. One car starts off best, it doesn’t have so far to go to the theoretical ultimate. The others have various things they can improve more, so they improve them! Plus we have the loss of Party Mode which hurt Mercedes most on Saturdays that the chart uses, then on Sundays it’s actually an advantage.

      They could overtake in F2, so I think the podium will be the usual, but lots of great racing for 4th. And yes tyres as you say @jureo, providing the deltas for that. Just hope it’s not decided by crappy ‘fake racing’ safety cars, then it should be awesome.

    6. It’s a peak downforce rollercoaster ride of a circuit; Red Bull’s car is built for all these corners. Should be a good race, both out front (as Bottas has the tiniest edge on Hamilton on lap time here, plus Max is in the mix) and in the midfield, where there’s not a huge amount separating the long run pace. The wrong tyre choice for a stint could play havoc with strategy and dirty air etc, as shown by the F2 feature race… so hopefully F1 can put on a show from the start all the way til the last lap.

    7. Hamilton will succeed i.s.a.

    8. I was thinking… as now there’s no Quali Mode, with last weekend’s race Mercedes suffered overheating issue, could it be they detune the engine further to avoid the overheating problem?

      1. Last week overheating was because they were following a lot more cars than usual from behind due to Bottas horrendous start and Hamilton penalty.

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