Mercedes also ‘losing a bit on the engine side’ to Honda – Wolff

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted their deficit to Red Bull is down to more than just aerodynamics.

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position in Bahrain by almost four tenths of a second. Changes to the technical regulations for the 2021 F1 season has left Mercedes trying to recover lost rear downforce.

However Wolff said their cars are also losing out to their Honda-powered rivals on the straights. The M12 power unit is not storing enough energy to be able to fully deploy electrical power when required.

“We’re losing a little bit on the engine side in terms of derates,” said Wolff. “We are not yet in a happy place with our energy recovery. But it’s not one single point where we could say this is a big gap.”

Honda has made gains with its power unit during the off-season, which AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost believes is now almost a match for Mercedes.

“Honda has done a great job,” said Wolff. “They have delivered a power unit that is extremely competitive – look at where AlphaTauri is – and we just have to take it as sportsmen. This is as it looks. You just have to say, well, they’ve done a really good job, full stop.

“But there’s just no other solution than to recover. And I believe that on the derates that you see just this is something we just need to get on top of. That is not easy, but we’ll get there.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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22 comments on “Mercedes also ‘losing a bit on the engine side’ to Honda – Wolff”

  1. The idea of Honda’s engine being considered as strong if not more powerful than the Mercedes is something that seems unreal when thinking of their struggles with McLaren. They’ve come so far and improved so much it’s truly disappointing to think that just as the PU becomes near-class leading that Honda are leaving. Hopefully Red Bull can continue its development.

    1. Honda do, of course, have history of abandoning class-leading designs. As Mercedes could doubtless remind you. I think Toto’s got more the right of it than Tost here, though – the Honda is clearly leading the pack at the moment, unless anyone thinks that AT have made enough aero progress over the winter to be at worst level with McLaren, since right now they seem to be third on speed…

    2. The real question is what has Renault been doing all those years?

    3. Considering Honda was rushed into F1 under the new regulations by Mclaren, it is no surprise they had issues.
      Their original plan was to spend a year testing before teaming up with Mclaren.
      All the same, they then seemed to allow the token system to dictate their research and development, instead of simply going ahead with parallel engine models.

  2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    27th March 2021, 20:59

    Oh shut up Toto, mercedes are getting ridiculous now. Fed up of them.

    1. Yeah, isnt it hilarious? They will play the underdogs for 1-2 races to celebrate after how good they are in recovery the situation.

      1. Yup. They were sandbagging up until q1.

        1. Indeed, or q2, that’s where they turned it up.

  3. Toto loves this spiel more than anything. Quick reminder for those affected by the Mercedes propaganda: They’re in 2nd and 3rd and the most dominant Formula One team of all time has twenty-three races ahead of them to fix that what caused them to miss pole position today.

  4. It may have more power, but it’s it reliable?!

    Reply moderated
  5. Ask the FIA to investigate them like you did with Ferrari, add a couple of sensors to their engines et voilà…

  6. I thought they’d agreed to freeze engine development. Isn’t this what Redbull argued for and got for this season, Yet Honda are still improving the engine, bringing forward engine improvement which were planned for 2022.

    A case of how to have your cake and eat, or your engine free and development.

  7. Red Bull and Ferrari have been faster than Mercedes since 2014…where have you been man?

  8. Another thing Mercedes lost is the Party Mode during last year’s season after Red Bull/Honda continuous bragging about that. Kudos to Red Bull/Honda for series of will planned strategic approaches to dethrone Mercedes.

    1. Man.. I almost forgot about that one! You’re right.. Mercedes’ engine modes were a key advantage. I don’t think it affected them much last season as they already had a performance advantage, but this season it’s going to hurt not having that secret pace in hand.

      1. @todfod
        The qualy mode ban has had an impact not only on the power Mercedes can deploy in Qualy and in crucial parts of the race. It affected the aero too because Mercedes were running an extreme downforce set up that generated an important amount of drag which was compensated by the mighty power. Once the ban came into effect at Monza, it was noticeable that Mercedes removed some bits of their car and they also lost their lead to RBR in slow speed corners.

  9. Read it with a Larry David “whaaatt?!!!???”

  10. Another possible way to explain Perez poor showing is a Redbull split qualifying strategy. Redbull may have chosen to have Verstappen in the equvalent of their ‘party mode’, leaving Perez like the Redbull drivers before him, in a safer race mode. Theory is that Verstappen manages the engine racing in its highest mode setting. Mean time Mercedes are still playing it safe by dialing down their engines to ‘race mode’ whilst qualifying.

    1. In Q2 Perez was only 3 tenths off Verstappen’s time and got eliminated. I don’t expect he’ll ever really give the young man a challenge but he wasn’t that far away from someone who a lot of people describe as the best on the grid.

      The midfield is a lot closer this year so we’ll see a lot of small gaps making a big difference to starting position.

  11. I remember Honda engines of the past eras. They were immensely powerful but had a great tendency to detonate.

    Let’s hope they’re also reliable (there’s already been an “issue” at AT, although no one is saying what) or we might see some great pace followed by one with penalties and then more great pace.

    1. Till last year, Honda had 1 full power race that was try to win and then 4-5 races on ready mode to save the engine.
      We will see after 2-3 races this year if this trend has changed or else MB will fly ahead as always.

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