Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Mercedes’ novel suspension will offer greater gains at some tracks – Horner

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is wary of the benefit Mercedes may gain from its novel suspension system.

Footage of the Mercedes W12 lowering itself on the straights during the Turkish Grand Prix prompted speculation the team has perfected a means of stalling its diffuser to boost its straight-line speed when needed.

Mercedes’ strong showing in Turkey suggested the device had allowed them to gain the upper hand in their rivals. But Red Bull led the way at the Circuit of the Americas, where Mercedes did not appear to gain as much from the system.

Horner believes its influence on the car’s performance varies from track to track. “What we saw in Turkey was quite an extreme version of it which that circuit seemed to allow,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“We don’t feel that it is illegal,” Horner added. “It’s something that has been used historically, we’ve seen it with them in the past.”

The system, which Horner believes was introduced before the Turkish Grand Prix, is thought to perform less effectively when the team is not able to use DRS. Horner suggested it will be particularly beneficial at the new circuit which is being built to host the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December.

“It will have a greater influence at some tracks than others,” he said. “It was a reduced effect here [in Austin] but somewhere like Jeddah, for example, it could be quite powerful.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto also said he had no concerns over the legality of Mercedes’ suspension.

“Honestly, I’m not too interested in those discussions,” he said. “We are not really following them.

“I heard about it, I do not see anything wrong or illegal in that and I think even not surprising the way it’s behaving.”

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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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71 comments on “Mercedes’ novel suspension will offer greater gains at some tracks – Horner”

  1. I thought moveable aerodynamic device’s were banned

    1. It’s suspension, it moves, it has to.

      Obviously ‘moveable aerodynamics’ has been used to outlaw things like mass dampers in the past, but could someone not just go back rewrite that section a little more clearly? The vagueness of it was obviously beneficial previously as it gave carte blanche to Mosley or Bernie or whomever to ‘balance the field’, or stop costs escalating.

      But I like to think we’re a bit more grown up now, and we could clarify it a bit more.

  2. What is novel about the suspension when 7 teams use it. Even Ferrari claim to have that kind of suspension for many years now.

    1. OOliver, it is worth noting that Ferrari have been quite a bit more dismissive about Red Bull’s behaviour when speaking to other journalists.

      When talking with the German press, for example, they not only reiterated the point that it’s legal and that all the teams do it, they accused Red Bull of running a “malicious propaganda campaign” that was intended solely to rile up the press and the fans to make them attack Mercedes over a complete non-issue.

      1. There are several fake stories in the german press about this situation in relation to RedBull. So i would take all those “news media” with a grain ( or more) of salt.
        A bit critical never disappoint..

        1. Got any links?

        2. erikje, your attitude seems to be that, if it is anything that is not positive towards Red Bull, then it must be fake. You seem to have missed the point, which is that your behaviour is exactly what Red Bull wants its fans to do – which is to go out attacking others and repeating the story that Red Bull wants told, even if the story does not have any truth to it.

      2. anon If indeed Binotto is saying, presumably at COTA, that he is not bothered about what Mercedes is doing and is not getting into the discussion, as per the quotes from him in this article, but is going to the German press and accusing RBR of things, then to me that is Binotto (or someone else from Ferrari if not him) hypocritically stirring things up needlessly. After all, I would hardly describe anything I have heard/read Horner say of this issue/concept as being malicious nor meant to rile up the press or fans, presumably to make them attack Mercedes as per your comment. In other words, I don’t think I would trust whatever some German press has supposedly reported as being reputable, because I doubt Binotto or Ferrari would be wasting their breath accusing RBR of what they supposedly have given their apparent disinterest in the topic.

        1. @robbie it was not Binotto who was making those comments to the press, instead being a more junior member of Ferrari’s team. Their interest is simple – their car also does a similar thing (as all others do), and they were expecting Red Bull to start turning their ire towards them as well.

          As for claiming that there is nothing malicious – it has whipped up the press into a frenzy of speculation over Mercedes’s car, with this site and many others publishing multiple articles over what is really a non-story, and when it comes to riling the fans, we’ve seen how there has been the usual core of posters who have taken Red Bull’s statements as a sign to complain that Mercedes are cheats, that they are liars and so on and so forth.

          In this case, I’d actually argue that there have been those in the German press who have been more level headed and pointed out that the issues with Red Bull’s narrative. They’d previously pointed out that the design freeze for this year meant Mercedes had to homologate their rear suspension design last year, during which they would have submitted detailed design drawings to the FIA for the approval process.

          The FIA would have had to already make a judgement on the legality of Mercedes’s rear suspension, and they have approved it as legal. Red Bull know that, and indeed Horner has acknowledged in this very article that what Mercedes are doing is legal – but he is still continuing to make comments in the press, and the only reason for that seems to be to try to keep stirring up a story that even Red Bull is effectively admitting has no basis in fact.

          That is why there is the accusation that this is a propaganda campaign by Red Bull – they know and have admitted that there’s nothing wrong, but are still drip feeding the press a narrative that they want them to repeat, and which they’ve succeeded in making you repeat as well.

          1. Interesting you seem to attack the bearer of news if it does not fit your narrative.

          2. Exactly erikje.

            Anon I don’t think I am repeating any narrative other than simply that RBR have noticed changes to Mercedes straight-line speed at times, have commented on it via questions asked them by media, and have said they think they know what Mercedes is doing which is a known legal concept. There has been no riling up attempted by them to sway folks towards them and against Mercedes and they can’t control what some fans and some media want to run with, once they have given an honest and diplomatic opinion of what Mercedes is doing.

            For me I have never felt Horner was accusing Mercedes of doing anything illegal and I think Mercedes is merely working their car to maximize it as always, as is RBR, to try to win this year’s Championships. I don’t detect any ‘frenzy’ over this, and I don’t seek to find or dig for ways to support some argument that this is a frenzy as I don’t seek out nor buy into tabloid type reporting or analysis of such.

  3. I noticed Hamilton was only 0.1 seconds quicker than Verstappen on the long straight near the end of the Grand Prix, making up time instead in the corners with his fresher tyres. So maybe we should be looking at how a red bull can achieve that level of straight line speed.

    1. So you expect that only by illegal means it is possible to achieve those speeds?

      1. Steven made no comment on the legality of what Red Bull do. He merely pointed out that in at least one area it is better than what other teams are doing, and that other teams should try to understand and learn from it.

    2. It seemed pretty clear to me – Red Bull could get the power down out of turn 11 onto the back straight and Mercedes couldn’t. Whether that was because Max protected the rear tyres better, because he used his battery power in a clever way or because the Mercedes was struggling in the dirty air – it kept him out of range of Lewis. If the Red Bull was much faster in a straight line than the Mercedes, why couldn’t Max pass Lewis in the first stint with DRS?

    3. Davethechicken
      26th October 2021, 22:40

      The usual red bull bull. Horner stated the Mercedes had “incredibly impressive” top speed in Turkey despite the Mercs being only 7th and 8th fastest through the speed trap.
      I think they know they have the best car but are so so scared they are going to blow it (which I don’t think they will), that they spout all this nonsense.

      1. https://the-race.com/formula-1/red-bull-cant-get-near-surprising-mercedes-straightline-speed/

        Davethechicken Horner is talking about their straight line speeds at times along the back straights during the race. Where are you getting the ‘7th and 8th fastest through the speed trap’ info from? I don’t think Horner would be claiming something that isn’t able to be confirmed. I don’t think there would be articles about what Mercedes is doing if there wasn’t something to what Horner is saying.

        1. Davethechicken
          27th October 2021, 15:09

          It is here

          https://f1i.com/news/420887-istanbul-speed-trap-who-is-the-fastest-of-them-all.html

          Of course the cars are Parc ferme on leaving the pits in qualy.
          Ask horner to explain what he means because it sure don’t make sense

          1. As you can see in both the article I cite and the one you have he is relating their speed to the amount of downforce they were using ie. a big rear wing and yet those kinds of speeds.

          2. Davethechicken
            27th October 2021, 19:31

            I do understand what you are saying.
            But it is hardly “incredibly impressive” to be 6kph slower than ferrari now is it? Big wing or not the other teams faster than merc were hardly in Monza spec now were they? To say there is something strange when we now understand Merc are stalling the diffuser which is hardly a novel new idea (and is within the rules) is Sour grapes and indeed is incredibly impressive exaggeration.
            The fact all the other teams are seemingly totally unconcerned and even red bull concede everything is legal highlights the none story that it is.
            But hey, the Red Bull faithful will lap it up and eagerly await Christian for next utterance .

      2. Mercedes had a huge topspeed difference and that it seems that system worked very well while in other tracks it didn’t.
        Red Bull was looking why from Silverstone Mercedes had a much higher topspeed while using bigger wings (rear).
        That is also the point Mercedes were slightly ahead while some tracks this system doesn’t work optimal and it seems to be hard to get the setup right. So they bend from behind Red Bull to slightly ahead and in some tracks a bigger advantage.

        This is not Red Bull talk but the overal F1 communitie who understand the technical part of F1.

        1. Davethechicken
          27th October 2021, 15:31

          See above Mcleod. Even horner says the Mercs are legal in this regard, stalling diffusers is decades old.
          Maybe ask yourself why RBR keep bring this up? It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, no one else is objecting? Why do they feel they need a narrative that their car is no good and they have a “magic” driver?

    4. They intentionally reduced the rear wing surface to achieve higher speeds at the cost of tyre wear.

    5. As Max had DRS and Lewis didn’t that could maybe explain it…

  4. As this will be beneficial on many tracks over a season, this is a big deal that will surely make its way into next generation car as well, meaning Mercedes has the advantage for next year.

    1. @balue Several teams use a similar system including RB, as we seen at COTA a “Mercedes” track RB had their measure. So it’s a bit early to say that.

      1. @johnrkh As I understand it, this is not as effective on high rake cars like the Red Bull, and it’s hard to imagine Newey giving up his basic design philosophy now.

    2. @balue Seriously? People were commenting on this already when looking at the footage comparing rear wing flex.

      As pretty much all the teams have implemented this already, there must be a reason why Red Bull don’t. Either they couldn’t get it to work or they want us to believe that they were utterly unaware about their rivals.

      1. @f1osaurus I have already commented to this point above

        1. @balue Also wrong, since it would be more effective on high rake cars

          1. Wrong as you wouldn’t get the necessary pushdown

      2. I’m assuming that RBR haven’t really tried to make this work in the way Mercedes can due to the high rake they have gone with for so long and that they have made work for them in other ways. I’m assuming RBR have always known they wouldn’t be able to lower their car enough to stall their diffuser in the same way as Mercedes has, or else they would have by now, since it is a well known concept.

        1. +1 very well worded!

        2. @robbie So 7 teams have this and RB not because you think blah blah blah

          1. Blah blah… Very mature reaction.
            Probably one of your best BTW.

          2. Well it’s just him ranting nonsense, so yeah

    3. @balue I wouldn’t assume that, since the cars will be so very different underneath. But since the concept in general is well known by all, if indeed something similar could be useful and employed then I don’t see why Mercedes would have some advantage next year, especially a ‘transferable’ one from this season to next. Will we even see low rake and high rake cars anymore? With ground effects I’m assuming they’ll all be low rake to keep air sealed underneath as much as possible. As well, here Horner is implying Mercedes diffuser stall works better when they are deploying DRS and we’re not even sure if DRS will be used or needed next year, or at least how powerful it will be if it is employed.

  5. How does it work? Or more precisely, a stalled diffuser implies lower downforce and a raised, not lowered ride height, surely?

    1. When you lower it enough, you choke off the airflow enough that it stops effectively creating a low pressure area under the diffuser—the remaining air just flows out the back “unattached” to the surface. The air is not doing the same “work” with the byproduct of the associated drag. You are thinking it is like an airplane wing, which makes sense. But here the device is not being stalled by increasing the angle of attack until the low pressure side airflow detaches. Also, remember the F-Duct McLaren used to run, before it was banned? Similar in effect or principle.

      1. Thanks for the explanation DaveW. The F-duct effectively had a driver controlled switch, hence predictable. The circumstances where stall occurs on the W12 must be really difficult situation to predict and therefore control such that it happens only where desired?

        1. I think it’s dependent primarily on speed because downforce is a function of speed. More speed, more df, the lower the car. However, it must be tricky because once you lower the car enough to trigger the stalling the df decreases so you could potentially get an oscillating effect on drag, or no effect. Also, the DRS decreases df when it’s open. Also also, you probably want the air to reattach cleanly when you slam on the brakes and the car dives under braking and slows down. Sounds like a set of differential equations from hell.

          1. Benjamin Britton
            27th October 2021, 2:04

            Dave and Fraser….theres 2 guys that know their stuff. Learnt a lot, thanks so much.

          2. Found this video that explains the system very well (although more correctly youtube AI delivered it to me, another topic with completely different worries!)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFDGz7afFKw

            Seems if the track has a clear split of fast straights and slow corners the system is easily calibrated, not so much for those that also have fast corners. It’s clearly completely legal.

          3. That calibration is probably the issue. Most likely Red Bull just couldn’t get it to work.

            You can see here that Red Bull did the same last year in Austria:
            https://youtu.be/tMS9_qoM_xk?t=21

            However, their drivers complained of instabilities of the rear end. By the looks of it they have stopped using this, as currently their car barely hunkers down on the straights at all. So then the next move is to publicly out their opponents for using this.

  6. I think Toto spoke of having to tune speed out of their car to cope with the bumps, probably making it softer than others and reducing the effectiveness of their suspension. So they were effectively stuck with a long car that doesn’t turn as well as the RB without the advantage of straight line speed they should have. I think the opposite happened to Red Bull in Turkey to some extent where they tuned too much understeer into the car meaning they lose their cornering advantage and lose out massively on the straights. The variation in conditions, surfaces, layouts etc are more important than people realise which is why we can’t assign “Merc” and “Red Bull” tracks

    1. Very well worded i think this is the case why cars are behaving strange on tracks where they should be better.

  7. Springs that compress under load… What a novel comcept.

    I cannot remember, when was the last time, that F1 rivals did not complain about Mercedes advantageois features.

    1. Davethechicken
      26th October 2021, 22:43

      Comment of the day

      1. Except they are complaining.

        1. “Aren’t” complaining

          1. @robbie Except they are complaining

            Are you seriously this naive?

          2. @f1osaurus Except they are explaining, but of course you are going to call it complaining due to your bias and your predictable attitude when it comes to anything Max or RBR. Our discussions always devolve because you either get in a snit or start out in one.

          3. @robbie Our “discussions” only revolve about you being clueless.

            Again, are you seriously this naive that Red Bull keeps harping on about this for no reason at all. Whatever comes out of Horner’s and Marko’s mouth is always propaganda with them trying to achieve some goal

            You really need to learn that people say things for a reason. They don’t literally have to say “you are a cheater” to imply that you are cheating.

          4. @f1osaurus More ridiculous rhetoric from you over Horner simply answering a question posed to them by RaceFans. That you have decided this is actually subliminal accusations of cheating is due to your own paranoia and bias against Horner.

          5. @robbie Are you seriously trying to pretend that Red Bull did not ask the FIA to investigate Mercedes? Anyone even the slightest bit informed KNOWS that they DID.

            You are such a facetious sack of feces. Get LOST!

          6. @f1osaurus Are you seriously trying to pretend that asking the FIA to investigate equates to accusations of cheating rather than seeking clarification? If so, then this is nothing different than Mercedes has done to RBR several times this year as well. So what’s the diff? Oh yeah. Your bias.

            Sorry to see you have such anger management issues. Perhaps you should have that investigated. You should check your ego too, as this is not your site within which you have any power to tell me what to do.

          7. @robbie Just stop it. Sad sycophant.

  8. Here is some footage of Red Bull doing the same in thing already in 2020 (plus their flexible rear wing):
    https://youtu.be/tMS9_qoM_xk?t=21

    1. To me that just looks like the car lowering at speed due to more downforce pushing the car down the faster they go, as would be the case with all cars. It’s just a video showing the flexy wing. I would think the innovative part they’d have to be doing, as Mercedes are, has to do with the shape of the floor and/or diffuser that now stalls out as the car lowers at speed. I think that’s why TW referred to them finding the ‘sweet spot’ with their setup rather than some ‘device’ or ‘trick.’

      1. @robbie It clearly shows non linear deflection. Plus the current RB car hardly shows any. So they clearly failed at what they were trying to do and took it out. So now they try to ban it on other cars. Tried and tested strategy.

        1. But they do not try to ban it. Fantasy is common in your dimension I see.
          A good thing, in relation to your childishness

          1. Lol so naive

  9. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    27th October 2021, 0:44

    To be honest I’m a bit confused on who’s meant to have what advantage.

    Historically Red Bull have been great aero wise but a bit deficient on the engine. This year Honda have made great strides, but RBR relatively struggled in Monza and Sochi. They struggled in Turkey too but were back again in COTA.

    So my amateur engineering logic thinks whoever has an engine advantage stands to lose out more in Mexico as that said lead is reduced…? But Red Bull were quite good at relative altitude in Austria.

    1. Aero has drag so how bigger you gainst in Aero is how bigger the drag is. Engine can push through it but if the drag is too great you gained almost nothing. In Mexico the air is so think all aero losses atleast 25% (which is hunge) but the engine is limited on HOW fast you turbo can turn. (lesser air how faster the turbo turns but it’s limited on 125k)

      Now Honda had improved his Turbo by it’s aircarft department so it works good and reliabilty was great. Mercedes Turbo was always great in the lower part of altitudes while Renault and Honda were the better turbos on higher altitude while Ferarri is between them.

      So if Max AND Perez are flying in Mexico free pratice (1-2) it will be a boring race (as they uses the old engine in FP) as with there newer engines i expect them far ahead.

      Also the older parts on Lewis engine are going to get a beating so maybe we get his first DNF since a long time.

  10. Nobody’s complaining about it, so everybody is either working on, or has a similar system going. given 2021 was all about floor downforce, it makes sense that they did focus on this sort of development. We’ll see it next year still.

    I wonder how long, or what sort of incident, it will take for the FIA to find a way to ban what in essence is multi-stage suspension systems?

  11. From what I’ve seen, the system lowers itself even before there’s enough downforce to compress the spring. Out of the corner it seems, not mid-straight. It does resemble a mechanic device altering suspension geometry on the go, something Mercedes has been playing with for quite some time. DAS, FRIC, that other system that lowers the front when the steering wheel is locked right or left…
    It really doesn’t look like just a spring stiffness set up. So, it will be impossible to copy at this time of the game. And it may give Mercedes the edge in Brazil as well, not only Saudi Arabia.

    1. Brasil i don’t think so as it’s a circuit where you do a lot of turning even the straight is curved.

  12. It’s just the rear brace… All the cars have it. Red Bull PR tactics seem to be “whip the Netflix fans into whatever baseless frenzy we can”. All of this deeply undercutting what should be a championship won on merit. A bit of duct tape wouldn’t go amiss, applied to the face area.

    1. Redbull’s method, Horner and Marko, is to damage everybody’s reputation. The narcissist only think of himself and everything is the fault of others.

  13. Horner the boy who cried “Wolf”!

  14. More Horner misdirection….

    Whilst he’s talking up Mercedes there’s still no real explaination why their car did so well against the supposed Mercedes advantage. Are they running their engines in some secret mode no one has any knowledge of. The fact they managed to stay up with Mercedes in the first stint was something of a surprise even before their strategy call to pit early.

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