“Incredibly impressive” Mercedes straight-line speed alarms Red Bull

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Red Bull believe Mercedes have suddenly made significant gains with the straight-line speed of their W12.

The W12s had an advantage of as much as 20kph at times during the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“Their straight line speed has taken a significant step recently,” said Horner. “Whereas we could match them with smaller wings previously, now we can’t get near.”

Mercedes’ advantage was noticeable at Istanbul, said Horner, where Lewis Hamilton was able to mount an attack on Sergio Perez without the benefit of DRS.

“Lewis in particular had a significant straight-line advantage with a bigger rear wing on the car,” said Horner.

“We’ve got to maximise our package as best we can and as I say it’s surprising that they appeared to have made the step that they have with the power unit.”

Mercedes fitted a new engine to Hamilton’s car this weekend, as they did for Valtteri Bottas at the previous round. However these are believed to have been instigated for reliability reasons, and teams are not allowed to upgrade parts which have already been changed this year.

Horner said it isn’t clear whether Mercedes’ performance gains are linked to their fresh components.

“You can see across all of their teams, they’ve obviously got some reliability issues that they’re managing, which is unusual for Mercedes,” he said. “But the performance is still incredibly impressive. Whether one comes at the expense of the other, I don’t know.

“But certainly today it’s been highlighted I think if you look at some of the speed deltas on the back straight, at some points it was 15 to 20 kilometres an hour which is more than if there had been DRS.”

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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
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62 comments on ““Incredibly impressive” Mercedes straight-line speed alarms Red Bull”

  1. 15-20 kph, not that much. At least, neither in QLF nor race.

    1. @jerejj
      It’s not that much when you’re travelling at 70 kph. It’s a total different story when you’re at 300 kph.

      1. @tifoso1989 I was referring to speed gaps.
        QLF maximum speeds for Mercs & RBRs at speed trap:
        BOT 327.6
        HAM 327.5
        PER 324.1
        VER 322.0
        Race:
        HAM 310.7
        BOT 307.6
        PER 303.0
        VER 297.1
        Therefore, less than Horner’s 15-20 kph in both sessions.

        1. @jerejj
          Slipstream often plays a big role in these top speed figures.
          Hamilton probably hit those 310 kph while running in Perez’ slipstream. You can easily gain 10+ kph in the slipstream (with a head wind even more).
          Wing levels, rake and aero efficiency in general also have an impact on straightline speed.

        2. It’s not about top speed, it’s about how quickly you get there.

          1. @Dex Indeed.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            11th October 2021, 13:48

            Good point:-)

          3. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            12th October 2021, 3:45

            Isn’t that one in the same considering speed units includes the time variable?

          4. D = (Cd*A*r/2)*V^2

            IOW, top speed is directly a metric on how fast it gets to a given speed. IOOW, you can say it either way.

        3. Also the Merc’s were doing this on a higher downforce package, which is why Red Bull are now so concerned.

          Reply moderated
          1. Maybe higher downforce package by looking at the wings, but remember that the high rake cars, such as RB, have an inherent higher level of body and underbody generated downforce.

  2. And so it should… it seems like the biggest gap it has been this year.

    1. Davethechicken
      11th October 2021, 19:29

      Smoke and mirrors by RBR as usual. The data above shows not all is as red bull claim, (what a surprise)

  3. It’s clear the last races Mercedes is still the dominant car to beat. With Bottas to back Lewis not hard to predict who has the best position for the WDC

    1. I am not so sure about that. I think this year, both teams have clearly a big advantage on the other depending on the track. The question is which teams cars suit better for the majority of the remaining races.

    2. Hard to tell in Belgium, cause no racing happened. Hard to tell in Italy even, because Max finished ahead of Lewis in the sprint and only fell behind because of a bad pit stop.

      Then in Sochi, Max takes his engine penalty but scythes through the field to P2.

      In all since Hungary there’s been a swing towards Verstappen, so that advantage obviously isn’t that pronounced as one would think.

      Reply moderated
  4. Imho it’s not that Mercedes has more speed – Leclerc was faster at the speed trap – but that RBR lost some speed, as Verstappen was the slowest car at the speed trap.
    Possibly this has to do with the combination of high rake and the high grip levels of this circuit, which didn’t suit the RBR.

    1. And the stiffer tyres seems according to Peter Windsor the return to Mercedes speed.

      1. Peter is 180° wrong on the sidewalls. From last years bahrain test that RB have impressed, they were quickest trialling the new tyre and quickest in bahrain early on the season. The stiffer tyre brought the field together, the Merc had something special on the old tyre and is eventually going to get there with the 2021 tyre.

        1. Sinds they are introduced Mercedes perform suddenly much beter with both cars … I am sure it had a effect on Mercedes but Red Bull had the same but in the negative. So it’s not total the tyres fault but for sure it had effect on both teams.

  5. Sure, the Mercedes is a really good car. And yeah, maybe the cooler temperatures helped the ICEs get more power – the most at Ferrari though. I guess there might be something in what @macleod mentions – Peter Windsor’s “stiffer sidewalls on the tyres helped Mercedes relative to RB” as well.

    Overall, we already knew that this track did not suit RB that well. But they ended up taking a double podium, Perez was able to outrun Hamilon on the straight in a direct fight as well, so really cut the BS Horner.

    1. For a comparison of the power you cannot look at laps on a wet track. There exit speed and the ability to get the power down matter much more than outright power.

      And when we look at the dry running Mercedes used their fraudulent intake cooling system that the FIA won’t even investigate to very good use. I just hope running their engine this hard will come back to haunt them near the end of the season.

      1. There IS no “fraudulent intake cooling system”.

        1. Ofcourse there is. Where else did Mercedes get the extra speed from?

          1. Of course there isnt a fraudalant intake cooling system, it is speculative comment from the big mouths of F1 called Red Bull Bosses. When they have extra speed, it is due to reliability upgrades, when someone else has extra speed it is fraudulent systems somehow… their narrative is always, we are fair everyone are not!

          2. But what if Mercedes hasn’t filed for any reliability upgrades? Where is the extra power coming from then? Of course you could optimize the firmware running these PUs but that will not get you a massive boos in power we are seeing right now.

          3. @mysticus

            it is speculative comment from the big mouths of F1 called Red Bull Bosses

            No other bosses to have been questioning FIA about this too

      2. W0o0dy – Read reputable sources only boss.

    2. @bascb i think he is talking about driving in the free air look at Bottas he drove just away from Max and Max couldn’t get closer and how more the inter went to slick how more Bottas took distance from Max. Also did you notice the fastest Lap that was really fast and Max tried to set a fast time too but he aborted it was Bottas times were massive faster then his.

      And If i must be honest I think Lewis pass Sergio only by sticking near Lewis in the corners Lewis had to back off as Sergio isn’t Max and a collision would be costly. (Sergio would be in the clear by Red Bull if that happens)

  6. Maybe, that engine change was not all about reliability?

    1. Yep. Everyone seems to have forgotten (or discounted) how much tighter a new engine is.

  7. Whereas before Red Bull had the top speed advantage and could therefore hold the faster Mercedes off in the early part of the season, Mercedes has not only caught up, but since Silverstone now have the 5 kph top speed advantage, even with more wing like here. It also looks like the new Pirelli tyre helped their tyre warmup issues as well.

    Reply moderated
  8. I think a lot of it is just down to the fact that Red Bull have to run a skinny rear wing to get top speed whereas Mercedes don’t. With the track conditions being difficult, Mercedes could get the power down much more easily than Red Bull which increased the gap. In a dry race, I think the gap would have been much smaller.

    The next race will be interesting to see what the top speeds are looking like – there’s a real mix of tight, twisty sections, fast corners and long straights so we’ll get a better understanding of whether Mercedes really have improved their top speed or not.

    1. I think it won’t be interesting in Austin alone. Everybody seems certain the RB will dominate in Mexico and Brazil, but I’m not so convinced. The new Honda engine is so different it could match the Merc in early season, but how it will perform at higher altitudes is as of yet unknown. This is one heck of a season and probably won’t be decided until we are in the middle east.

      1. Hopefully, because for all talks about competitive seasons in 2017-2018, hamilton always won in mexico I think it was, with 3 races to spare, and mercedes was quite early too.

      2. I think the high altitude isn’t about ICE but about the Turbo the Honda Turbo works really good when it’s high above sealevel. I think Honda Aircraft division really came through for Red Bull.

        We will see If Mercedes really improved their package as they have the greatest downforce packet and if they could bring it down to that sweet spot of drag and groundeffect.

  9. Ham had no answer to Tsunoda, then as if a switch had been switched, Ham blasts past Tsunoda in s1. I think it is the George Russell mode. Like the williams merc ran a massive rear wing and still had massive top speed. It is suspicious because first George then Bottas and now Ham have gained a lot of top speed. In that battle with Perez, Ham was 20 kph faster early on the straight and with no drs, frankly it looks like returning to 2020 form to me rather than something new.
    Nobody noticed how much rear camber the mercedes were using? Probably at the max allowed, visually very striking.
    Since Silverstone I have no doubt merc is the quickest, perhaps from this batch the engine is working as it should have been all along.

    1. Lewis was extremely cautions around Tsunoda. He didn’t want an amateur on Red Bull’s payroll crashing into him. And the same with Perez who had far less to lose than Hamilton.

      1. Cautious, not cautions. Racefans, isn’t it time to include editing ability?

      2. @greenflag
        Hamilton was extremely aggressive with Perez, even tried to push him into the pitlane deliberately. He still couldn’t make the move stick though.

        1. Wrong again, Sharkie. Perez didn’t yield, he kept accelerating to stay alongside, and pushing wide is what happens when you do that on the outside. Perez was lucky he didn’t get penalized for getting a lasting advantage from going off track!

          1. What was the lasting advantage? He was way off the racing line. Not to mention he was well side by side so at best, if reviewed, wouldn’t have been a penalty.

          2. @david-beau

            pushing wide is what happens when you do that on the outside

            Depends on the driver. Perez was on the inside at turn 12 and 14, and yet he left Hamilton plenty of room. When Hamilton was on the inside, he tried to push Perez into the pitlane.

            The choice was made by the drivers. Hamilton wanted to be aggressive, Perez wanted to be clean. This directly contradicts @greenflag claim that Hamilton was being cautious.

            I have no doubt Hamilton fans will be playing the victim card next time Verstappen shoves him wide though.

  10. Redbull got lucky that DRS wasn’t enabled or Lewis would have finished 3 or 4 places higher.

    1. yeah if ham had drs, it would be a whole lot different story as ham would have passed gas tsu per without a sweat! and highly likely he would finish ahead of bot too (likely with a team order though but you never know, as ham drives better under pressure) ham drove way too cautious around redbull road blocks…

      Reply moderated
    2. It’s not luck, it’s what always happens: wet race, no drs.

  11. Just sounds like RB should take some wing off.

    1. Davethechicken
      11th October 2021, 19:32

      Not their style. They prefer to insinuate and pretend.

      1. and you like to copy that behavior?

        1. Davethechicken
          12th October 2021, 7:05

          Pot kettle black erijke

  12. Mercedes looking great for title. Only Verstappen magic or reliability can stop them.

    1. Davethechicken
      11th October 2021, 19:36

      Verstappen magic?
      What’s that?

      1. Verstappen fankids think Max is very special.

        1. He’s certainly been the best driver on the title condending teams so far, followed by hamilton, bottas, perez in order.

          1. Which as things are is also the order of the championship, but it’s just a coincidence given the luck and bad luck there’s been, however bottas and perez seem like they will not swap positions (aside from perez jumping norris).

  13. Sounds like little jack horner having yet another moan about Mercedes….he needs to concentrate on RBR and not spend so much time on the competition….

    Reply moderated
  14. Who recalls comments from Christian Horner and I think also from one of the Honda guys at beginning / mid season when the RB was faster on the straights? It was something along the lines that the Mercs engine starts to de-rate / harvest energy before the end of the straights therefore making them slower overall on the straights; do you recall?
    And it was true; during races, one could see the energy harvesting lights flashing on all cars running Mercs engines before the end of the straights. Could it be that they’ve managed to sort that out with better engine mapping? That, together with the Silverstone upgrade, better understanding of the tyres and much better understanding of their car and set up needed especially to get the tyres in the optimal operating window and stay there a little longer means they have made a step that looks like it’s unsettling the RBR camp? In other words, it’s multiple factors coming together and not a single thing.

    Before the Turkey round, people were pointing to the struggles the Mercs had last year with the tyres, which meant at some points (at the beginning of a stint / qualifying), they were 5s slower simply because they couldn’t switch on the tyres. But before the pre-race drivers press conference for this year, Hamilton said they’ve understood what went wrong last year and made adjustments to correct them! So maybe sub-consciously, people were expecting and were actually saying the track is going to suit RBR but it wasn’t.

    For Mexico and Brazil, people and RBR themselves have already started saying those tracks are going to suit them. Up until last year, the Honda turbo design (smaller but spins faster) was an advantage in the high altitudes of those tracks but the Honda engine has changed quite a bit this year…so the question is, is the turbo design the same or similar to last year’s or due to the changes they’ve made for this year, they’ve had to also make changes to the turbo’s design? We shall find out but don’t be surprised if it’s neck and neck at those tracks between Mercs and RBR!

  15. All the comments, arguing that Merc haven’t made gains, or it si just because the new engine can be run harder, whatever, are all well and good. But for me watching the weekend even without the deltas and data it was a clear as daylight that Merc have made significant gains, I already said this in another chat., even before this article was posted. I have felt the Merc has been the slightly better car all season, but now it is suddenly way ahead.

    Reply moderated
  16. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    12th October 2021, 3:59

    rain is sometimes luck, and both contenders have had different outcomes with rain, proving that it’s not just all skill when the heavens open.

    Rain causes Bottas to slip and take out 2 Red Bulls, but then Max gets free points in the rain in Spa, he was on the way to losing more points to Hamilton in Sochi but it rained, then it never really stopped raining/the sun never showed up in Istanbul.

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