Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Zandvoort, 2021

Mercedes will have advantage at Monza and Sochi, predicts Horner

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In the round-up: After Max Verstappen re-took the championship lead yesterday, his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects Mercedes will hit back hard in the coming races.

In brief

Advantage Mercedes at next two races – Horner

After victory in the first two races following the summer break – albeit including the abandoned Belgian Grand Prix – Horner expects that Mercedes will have an advantage heading into the next two rounds at Monza and Sochi.

“Their car and engine package has always traditionally been very strong at those two venues,” he said. “They’ve been weaker venues for us.

“I expect them to have the advantage at the next two, but thereafter, it should be nip-and-tuck, I would certainly hope. So the next two weekends for us are about trying to limit the damage as much as we can and extract from the car as much as we can.

AlphaTauri told Gasly to slow down

Gasly was flying on his way to fourth
Pierre Gasly says his AlphaTauri team were telling him to slow down at times on his way to a strong fourth place at Zandvoort.

“I’m really pleased,” he said. “The car is fast, I managed to set it the way I want and the team did a fantastic job all the way through the weekend. So today we were flying.

“They were asking all the time to slow down the pace for tyres and I just wanted to push more because we had more pace than that. But all in all very good management and an amazing race.”

Zandvoort open to change of date

Dutch Grand Prix promoter Jan Lammers says the venue is not wedded to a September date for future races.

“That’s not something I focus on,” said Lammers yesterday. “That’s not my call.

“This is one of the 20 or 21 races, whichever it turns out to, so that has to fit into the larger picture of Formula 1. So I think if that fits in well with them, that’s more important and I think we will accommodate whatever it is.”

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Comment of the day

What was your verdict on F1’s return to Zandvoort?

I like Zandvoort and have hoped to see it back on the schedule. It’s fast, twisty, has some history, and a great pedigree as far as track design goes. Tilke really should be studying Hugenholtz more, he seemed to have a knack for interesting circuit design.

I didn’t expect wheel-to-wheel racing because of the aero regulations, but we may see more of that next year if Zandvoort stays on the calendar. I still enjoyed the race. Max was superlative from the start. Beating Lewis to the first corner is no easy thing to do, even if you’re in a faster car.

I knew it was over when Lewis couldn’t close the gap to Max before Max got the hard tyres warmed up and switched on. It was a tense couple of laps though before Max’s tyres came into their own. The excitement of the home crowd made it special, too.
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  • 35 years ago today Teo Fabi scored his third and final pole position at Monza. He holds the record for most pole positions for a driver who never led a lap of a race.

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  • 36 comments on “Mercedes will have advantage at Monza and Sochi, predicts Horner”

    1. Just a note on Comment of the Day, Hugenholtz did not design Zandvoort, though he was Dutch Auto Racing Club chairman and the first Zandvoort circuit track director. The design of the original Zandvoort circuit is credited to 1927 Le Mans winner Sammy Davis, who was the track design advisor.
      Keep in mind also that the initial version of the circuit has its origins in the 1930s but the first formal version of Zandvoort first ran in 1948. At the time, the circuit ran mostly on public roads, with Tarzan and the main straight being the only purpose built sections at the time. The circuit ran this layout with slight variations (chicanes mainly) until 1989 when due to local pressures the circuit was cut back to mainly the sections closest to the beach (turning right after Hugenholzboch, Turn 3). The circuit was modified again for 1999 to expand to what we know of it now, after circuit finances allowed for this planned expansion. However, I cannot find who was responsible for the design of the circuit modifications in 1989 or 1999.

      1. I am not sure because i don’t have written articles but i am sure a local person with advise of mr. Davis in 1947 but there was a street circuit in the dunes before that.
        But your right Mr. Hugenholtz didn’t design Zandvoort BUT was in the design team and the one pushing for the circuit.
        But he did design: Suzuka, Japan (1962), Zolder, België (1963), Hockenheimring (stadion part), Germany (1965), Jarama, Spanje (1967), Ontario Motor Speedway (in coperation with Michael Parker), Californië (1970)

    2. Decades of f1 running away from positive camber corners only to find out these are perfect, they look better drive better and race better and they allow shorter run offs

      1. So true @peartree but you know they will not learn from it

        1. @balue
          Normally that’s the case but I still give Domenicali, given his work history, the benefit of the doubt.

      2. Why do they insist on having the cameras so closely zoomed on the cars, giving you no sense of how they are managing the corners. I’ve been irritated by this for ages

        1. Yes! Very annoying! Its gotten worse lately. I think the camera operators are told to do it to show off the sponsors. They zoom in so that you cant even see which corner they are going through, or if there is someone infront of them or behind them.

          Even when they are panning into a wide shot the focus is always the big billboard in the background. Its gotten much more obvious with Liberty in charge.

      3. @peartree, Positive camber corners also allow for different racing lines, inside shorter-slower, outside longer-faster, as FA showed L1, at least until all that “clag/marbles” from the crud tyres builds up on the outside. Wider positive camber corners can easily be designed to provide passing opportunities without slowing the cars, more durable tyres would complement closer racing.

    3. The AWS graphics are beyond cringe now. They are a joke.

      As for Monza I recall that Paul Ricard was to be a Mercedes track too. We will see. Honda have some power now.

      1. I particularly enjoyed the tyre strategy at the start, and then once it was clear it was wrong, an updated tire strategy graph mid race. Which was also wrong. LOL. “Insights”.

      2. Hopefully they can bring the fight to mercedes even in monza, they need to do that given the setbacks they had on the PU side, and yes, they were fairly competitive on some power tracks earlier on, but no track is as fast as monza, so we’ll see.

      3. What I don’t understand is that there are real people behind those graphics (I believe even people like Smedley), yet they still continue.

      4. @dmw The AWS graphics are so often wrong and clutter up the screen. They’re an impediment to understanding what is going on, unfortunately.

    4. I’m looking over the last ten laps of the race for that AWS graphic regarding the -30% tire performance and I don’t see it anywhere. Was it something on F1TV?

      Looking at the last pit stop of Bottas again, too. Ouch. It was actually a rather quick stop but the car drops and the light remains red because the man on the left rear wheel still has his hands down. Two seconds pass and he finally raises his hands in a very, very slow and deliberate fashion. Somebody was trying to make a point here. I’m curious what the Mercedes debrief video will have to say about this one.

      1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        6th September 2021, 3:29

        Don’t remember where I read it but here goes:
        AWS’ primary source of info for tyre health graphics is the the lap time and the consistency over several laps. So if you are in free air being chased by Hamilton, and you have to lap a bunch of cars ahead of you, the difference in lap time would be ‘significant’ according to the algorithm. That is why it showed the tyres at 10% health after Max had lapped around 8-9 cars over a period of 5-6 laps. It doesn’t really factor in how much a driver is pushing or conserving.

        Granted, the person designing the software and AI may not have much knowledge about F1 and its inner workings, but I hoped someone in the FOM (or whoever puts the graphics on the screen) would be sensible enough to understand the bigger picture and make the necessary corrections.

        1. They don’t vet the graphic before it gets shown. Although I agree they should.

          I remember laughing when Max’s hard tires was shown as 10% 10% for lefts, just 18 laps after his second stop! What would the algorithm have put for Ham’s older mediums then?

          1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
            17th September 2021, 3:08

            @kichi-leung Ham doesn’t need no algorithm, his tyres are always “gone”

      2. Probably nothing about where the man has his hands. Merc use the intelligent Super Gun 3. The light on the gun comes on automatically when its taken off the wheel and the gun is electronically connected to the pit stop gantry. And anyway they could take all the time they want to with the Bottas pit stop. It’s not like he was racing anyone.

      3. Almost certainly is an F1TV special. (I remember seeing lots of 10% on tyres that looked perfectly fine and were still giving good speed, which was a clue AWS was even more wrong than usual, but I saw highlights so assumed that any embarrassing bits were cut).

    5. I think Monza will probably be a Mercedes track. Due to rake reasons (or perhaps something else), Red Bull can’t seem to run a downforce setup that is as extreme as Mercedes. Plus, I think Mercedes will pefect the towing strategy for qualifying with Bottas giving Hamilton quite a bit of laptime. Red Bull need to use Perez to give Max a mega tow to even give him a shot at pole.

      But for Russia, I would have thought this would be a Red Bull track. This was one of their more competitive races last year, and given it’s going to be run on the C3, C4 and C5 tyre, that should be greatly favorable to Red Bull. Mercedes’ weakest races this season (Monaco, Baku and Austria) all came on that tyre.

      1. @mashiat

        Mercedes’ weakest races this season (Monaco, Baku and Austria) all came on that tyre.

        But that was before they sorted the floor. Now they can even run less wing than Red Bull and still be Ok with the tyres.

        1. @balue Is that really going to be a strength in Russia? Mercedes’ problem with the C4/C5 tyre seems to be generating enough temperature.

      2. Yeah. Red Bull should lower their expectation from Perez and make sure he gets to Q3 and give Max a tow. It was too close.

    6. This Horner is a real savant, in predicting Mercedes advantage..

      Good thing Max has a tight lead, perfect for the championship battle ahead.

      Even yesterday, who knows what Lewis would do if track allowed some overtaking.

      1. There really was some very nice overtaking. Perez moves on the mclaren pair, Alonso moves. To name a few.
        Three cars side by side during the start with some intense touching moments.
        Nice to see overtaking on merit and not Drs.

      2. someone or something
        6th September 2021, 8:03

        This Horner is a real savant, in predicting Mercedes advantage..

        It’s not rocket science. Horner knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Red Bull, and they’re obsessively studying the Mercedes. Based on what we’ve seen so far, a pace advantage for Mercedes at Monza and Sochi wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

        Even yesterday, who knows what Lewis would do if track allowed some overtaking.

        What do you mean? Hamilton was never in a position to attempt an overtake, never had the pace.

        1. someone or something
          6th September 2021, 8:08

          But of course, Horner isn’t making that comment because he’s applying for a job as an independent TV expert. If he’s opening his mouth, he’s probably trying to spin the message in some way that benefits Red Bull.
          That being said, there is little reason to doubt the veracity of his prediction.

    7. Honda have the better engine now, not only did Red Bull carry more downforce at Zandvoort, they actually pulled away down the straight even when Mercedes had a tow.

      Assuming no more bad luck for Max, it’s his title, there isn’t a single track remaining that will favour Mercedes.

      1. In Monza i think Mercedes will have the advantage as Max Engine is rather old compared with Mercedes. And the long-long straights is still Mercedes advantage (can deliver longer electirc power)

      2. someone or something
        6th September 2021, 8:22

        No idea about engine power, but:

        not only did Red Bull carry more downforce at Zandvoort, they actually pulled away down the straight even when Mercedes had a tow.

        No. Just no.
        Not only did this not happen, but of all the things in the history of things not happening, this didn’t happen the most.
        Verstappen was slower than both Mercedes through 3 out of 4 speed traps (in the S2 speed trap, he did beat Hamilton by 0.2 kph). And that’s despite catching a nice, DRS assisted slipstream behind Bottas at one stage, which boosted his figures for the finish line and main straight speed traps. Whereas the Mercedes only ever had DRS because of backmarkers, who tend to jump out of the way instead of trying to defend and offering a nice slipstream.

        I mean, it defies logic. If a car is not only quicker in the corners (which the corner analyses in Free Practice seemed to indicate), but also faster under acceleration – even so massively faster that it outweighs the benefit of a tow for the other car – then why on earth did that car not use that prodigious superiority to build a larger gap in the race, instead of just 1.5-3 seconds, so that they had to cover each of Hamilton’s pit stops immediately?

        1. Watch the race and notice the gap from Max to Lewis down the main straights, it was increasing even when Hamilton was within 2 seconds of the Red Bull.

          Speed traps don’t tell the whole story as they only give 1 figure for the race and that can include DRS, slipstream etc.

          Max was mainly managing his pace the whole race, only at the start and when Hamilton tried the undercut did he do a push lap and as you saw he easily had enough pace in hand.

          Welcome to modern F1, when you have to manage tyres, engines etc, no need for Max to push the whole race.

          1. someone or something
            6th September 2021, 13:36

            I think you’re having a bit of a Dunning-Kruger moment here …
            Your observation cannot have been anything more than anecdotal, since it defies logic, plain and simple.*
            Verstappen was clearly managing, yes, but not to a huge extent, since Hamilton was too close for comfort. All it needed, was a tiny mishap during one of the pit stops. A slow tyre change, another car in the pit lane at the wrong time, and Verstappen could’ve lost his lead.
            Managing your pace is extremely important, but if you have the pace, building a little buffer to account for the little things you can’t control, is a priority.
            It follows that what Verstappen did, was just the normal, everyday pace management, so common that mentioning it in an explanation implies a significance it simply doesn’t have. Everyone could go quicker at any given moment, it’s just the nature of the game.

            * You know what, I actually took a look at the race replay.
            Gaps between Verstappen and Hamilton, between last and first corner:
            Lap 1: 1.795 – 1.683 (-0.112)
            Lap 2: 2.211 – 2.087 (-0.124)
            Lap 3: 2.444 – 2.347 (-0.099)
            Lap 4: 2.367 – 2.288 (-0.079)
            Lap 5: 2.583 – 2.468 (-0.115)
            Lap 6: 2.759 – 2.740 (-0.019) Aha! Almost even, despite Hamilton having a tow? No, actually Verstappen also had a tow some 3 seconds behind Schumacher on that lap …
            Lap 7: 3.051 – 3.034 (-0.017) Same story, but closer.
            Lap 8: 3.308 – 3.214 (-0.094) Everything back to normal with Schumacher out of the way.
            Lap 9: 2.946 – 2.862 (-0.084)
            Lap 10: 2.994 – 2.890 (-0.104)

            Let’s have a look at the laps before Hamilton’s pit stop, when the gap was around 3.5 seconds:
            Lap 16: 3.499 – 3.475 (-0.024) Interestingly, Verstappen was closer to Vettel than Hamilton was to Verstappen, but despite that advantage, Hamilton still gained on him.
            Lap 17: 3.468 – 3.439 (-0.029)
            Lap 18: 3.596 – 3.631 (+0.035) First time Verstappen actually pulls away from Hamilton. But hardly a surprise, as Verstappen was catching Vettel, but Hamilton was hardly getting a tow anymore.
            Lap 19: 3.499 – 3.659 (+0.160) Verstappen just outside of Vettel’s DRS range, is let past immediately after.

            After the pit stop, gap back down to less than 2 seconds:
            Lap 23: 1.941 – 1.815 (-0.126)
            Lap 24: 1.936 – 1.856 (-0.080)

            Lap 29: 2.405 – 2.646 (+0.241) Verstappen with DRS, half a second behind Bottas. Hamilton without DRS.
            Lap 30: 0.723 – 0.703 (-0.020) Both cars with DRS, Verstappen with a mighty tow from Bottas. Hamilton gaining slightly.

            Fast forward to the 3d stint:
            Lap 47: 3.928 – 3.903 (-0,025)
            Lap 48: 3.847 – 3.780 (-0.067)

            Lap 59: 2.586 – 2.540 (-0.046)
            Lap 60: 2.955 – 2.971 (+0.016) The only time I saw Verstappen gaining on Hamilton without a significant tow. Possible explanation: Hamilton reporting his tyres were going off right as they entered the straight. He then dropped back to over 4 seconds behind Verstappen.

            Do I need to spell out the conclusion?

    8. Wasn’t this time of year merely to have spectators, given the original choice was early-season as the Dutch GP was scheduled for May 3 last season pre-COVID.

      ”Gentlemen, a short view back to the past. 30 years ago, Niki Lauda told us: Take trained, monkey place him into the cockpit and he’s able to drive the car. 30 years later, Sebastian told us: I had to start my car like a computer it’s very complicated, and Nico Rosberg said: He pressed during the race, I don’t remember what race, the wrong button on the wheel. Question for you two both: Is Formula 1 driving today too complicated? Are you too much under effort under pressure? What are your wishes for the future concerning the technical program, during the race? Less buttons more, or less, and more communication with your engineers?”

    9. Is this the same Horner who said if they could beat Mercedes at Paul Ricard they could beat them anywhere?

    10. What this means is. we will have weeks of Horner whinging then there will be the verstappan engine penalty. So, more whinging

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