Mercedes press home their advantage – will they be caught before it’s too late?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Apr 2014   |  8:24 am GMT  |  406 comments

“We still cannot think about catching up with Mercedes. Then again, the season is not over, so anything should be possible,” said Sebastian Vettel yesterday.

“The truth is that we have a great car, and now we need to work on the upgrades and implement them in the best possible way to make sure we get more power out of the engine.”

With their third one-two finish in four Grands Prix yesterday in China, Mercedes moved 97 points clear of their nearest rivals, Red Bull, in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship.

There is still a long way to go, but as the teams come home from the fly away races, preparing for the start of the European season, the question on everyone’s mind is – can they be caught?

In the drivers’ championship it is still relatively open; despite winning the last three races Lewis Hamilton is still not on top in the drivers’ table showing how damaging a non finish can be. It will be a long time into the season before other drivers like Vettel and Alonso can be ruled out.


But in the Constructors’ Championship, the game may soon be up, if Mercedes keeps racking up 1-2 finishes.

The key to what happens next, as in any F1 season, is development. Last season Red Bull was off the pace at the start of the year but then won nine straight victories in the second half. That was down to development; Red Bull did a lot of it while many of their rivals did less, instead focussing on the new 2014 hybrid technology.

This year they are all in the same boat; with the relative immature hybrid turbo technology, everyone is on a steep learning curve and as next year will be run to largely the same rules, it is a straight arms race to develop the car and power unit package within the rules to get the most from it.

The speed of development and the competence of F1 engineers can be shown by the reliability improvements made already in the first four races. In Australia there were just 15 finishers, yesterday in China there were 20; just two mechanical retirements.

The Mercedes team is where it is because it planned and prepared for the 2014 rules earlier and committed more resource earlier than its rivals. The team had Geoff Willis leading an inner group that was solely focussed on integration of chassis and power unit for the last two years. They invested heavily in people and Energy Recovery expertise at the engine factory in Brixworth from as long as six years ago.


The Renault and Ferrari powered teams are at a disadvantage as a result of all this and they simply have to catch up, as all the team principals have been saying. The rules don’t allow performance development on the engines now that the season has started, but engineers can do two things which will see a large improvement in performance.

The can make changes for reliability or safety and they can work with their chassis partners to maximise the performance of what they have. In the case of Renault and Ferrari the work in these areas will bring a lot more performance. Sebastian Vettel for example, is not getting the most from his car because he’s uncomfortable with the stability and the power delivery. Once he gets that sorted he will be much faster, meanwhile Renault will close down the 22km/h speed deficit it has to Mercedes. By the time we get to the long straight at Abu Dhabi in November that deficit will have been reduced significantly.

The question is, will it have been done in time for any team to stop Mercedes winning the championship?

“We’ve got to if we are going to make a championship of it. We have to take the fight to them,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner. “We are going to give it everything.

“I believe we can take the fight to them, we just can’t concede too much more ground. We were 22km/h slower than them on that 1km long straight today – that represents almost 100 metres – we are giving it away on the straights and that is where we have got to improve, it’s quite simple. And hopefully we will have doe steps towards that in Barcelona.”

Teams were noticeably cautious about throwing update parts at the cars during the flyaway races as it is so easy to get lost on a development path in the early stages of the season when the cars are away from the factory for almost two months. Updates need to be validated properly to allow a team to move forward.

But everyone will have extensive ideas about how to improve their cars, also from the Bahrain test, which was timely and these will be in production now; you will see them in Barcelona, where the competitive picture behind Mercedes could change as a result.

Mercedes has work to do too, but it is closer to the maximum now than its rivals so there will be diminishing returns as the season goes on.

The development race this time around is linear and there are no distractions regarding next year.

It’s a sprint race towards a finish line in November, in other words


Mercedes has no intention of letting up; it has pressed home its competitive advantage, which is the first rule of sport, unlike McLaren and Williams, for example which have not really taken full advantage in the early Grands Prix of the Mercedes power unit while Renault and Ferrari were struggling.

“Hopefully (Mercedes will develop), more than all the other teams; we want to go to Barcelona with the biggest step, that’s our ambition,” said Nico Rosberg yesterday. “Barcelona is a chance for us to extend the advantage that we have and that’s the approach that we have going to Barcelona, 100 percent. ”

2014 F1 Constructors’ Championship
1. Mercedes 154
2. Red Bull 57
3. Force India 54
4. Ferrari 52
5. McLaren 43
6. Williams 36

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406 comments

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1

The engines have been homologated so no, I don't think anyone can catch them. The title is already gone for this year and what's left to decide is which Merc driver will become world champion.

2

Please refer to Appendix 4 of the sporting regulations and Appendix 4 of the technical regulations to see which changes are permitted. It seems there is a huge lot of changes that can still be made.

James: It would be great to have an extensive article on this. It's a topic that pops up over and over again is doesn't seem to be well understood. Especially since the wording in the regulations leaves a lot of room for interpretations.

3

I wrote it before the season started

4

James, You got a link for that article?

5

Just have a think about turn one in

China. If massa takes out a front runner by colliding with him then two cars are gone. Perchance they rubbed wheels and did not get super rotated over the rear wheels and gone. Super crash. Alonso could have gone out, then Rosberg gets collected wheel to wheel. Again if its a centimetre out then he gets rotated upwards over the rears and he's out. So who knows what is in the future. Fast starting mid pack cars may crash the party for the front. One could always hope!!!!

6

Yeah, it happened to Alonso with both Grosjean and Kimi, and because of that he lost that huge point advantage and lost another WC with Ferrari. I think it's very unlikely that thing is gonna to happen to Merc; getting poles and running away on the first turn is the best way to stay out of trouble.

7

If as widely reported the Merc advantage is down to the way they have physically separated the turbo from its compressor, it's difficult to see how Renault/Ferrari engines could overcome this even in 2015. That sounds like an enormous design change - even if the flexible homologation rules would permit it.

8

James, why do you say there is potential to catch-up due to the allowance for changes for reliability? Reliability should not enable the car to go faster should it? Is this just more FIA sanctioned cheating? Does the FIA just turn a blind eye to 'reliability' improvements that are in fact just being put in place to close the performance gap? What is happening to F1's soul in the hunt for the 'show'?

9

They should only be allowed to make reliability changes to things that have actually bust during a race weekend. Otherwise it is surely pretty easy to change whatever you want on the basis that even though the last iteration of the part has never failed, this new version is even less likely to fail (and helloooo horsepower).

10

I find this whole talk about Renault catching up and merc already teaching it's development curve as a load of tosh!!

First in regards to Renault making changes due to reliability, well yes they can make an application to do so, but before they're given permission to do so, all the other manufacturers will be notified along with details of these changes and they would all have to agree before they can go ahead with the changes. Now I doubt merc would see where Renault are making changes that would give them a significant increase in power out put and agree to it. That's not changes for reliability purposes. Watch after the race the interview that the head of the powertain unit have to Lazenby. Furthermore, merc too are also allowed to make changes for "reliability or cost" purposes as well.

Secondly, this talk about their advantage is down to the engine, is also absurd. They've got just about as much downforce as the redbull, because it's not only on the straights that they make up time over the redbulls. They've managed to build the complete package. Furthermore, to keep saying when redbull catches up to them is just as absurd, everyone is making out as if the people at Mercedes are stupid and as such, unable to develop their car as well. Yes redbull may have Newey, but let's not forget, he has made some bad cars as well in his career. I doubt mercedes are just going to stand still and just let themselves be caught with their pants down. The won the firs 3 races using a B-spec nose, now that they've been able to get the one that was first designed for the car, shows that they're not just going to sit on their laurels.

Thirdly, to say that they have basically reached the optimum level of their car makes no sense. It's only been 4 races and they've barely had any new parts on their car. It's a new set of rules and for them to be at that level and to suggest that they can't develop any further, is just foolish. Redbull and Ferrari need to make up what I would say is about 3 seconds per lap, is unthinkable, even for Newey. Never has a team been able to find that much time in a single season, time is gained in increments of tenth of a sec, not a full second. I don't think what we saw in Bahrain was the true pace of the mercs. Let's not forget, they were battling each other for 10+ laps and still pulled away at 2 secs per lap. Now imagine if they weren't fighting each other, it would've been much bigger. Even in China just now, everytime a Ferrari or redbull set a personal best time, it was still a 1 second per lap slower than Lewis's time and that's despite him coasting.

So I think all this talk about catching the mercs this season is foolish, that gap is way too big for anyone to bridge in a single season. When the redbull was at the top of it's game, they never had this big an advantage, I doubt they even had a 1 sec advantage. Maybe they'll be able to do it next year, but merc has got the taste for winning and they like it and I don't see them just sitting their and let themselves get caught.

11

+1

I agree; game's over. Lewis and Merc are the new WC's. Obviously, Rosberg doesn't have the pinch of magic Hamilton has when he's centered on reacing. It's a shame the season is decided so early..hats off to the Merc team; they built an incredible machine; both engine and chassis. I thought The modern F1 era belonged to Adrian Newey but I was wrong. The only thing I am still right about since 2009 is the downward evolution of Ferrari; shame that Alonso and Kimi has to stick to them until retirement.

12

>What is happening to F1′s soul in the hunt for the ‘show’?

The idea of freezing development is a new one, dating back to 2007. Some freezes were more frozen than others, and in 2007 Mercedes gained a power advantage that was never fully removed, but instead the goal posts were shifted. As far as F1's 'soul', whatever that is, goes, the freeze is largely about trying to contain costs. There are a lot of regulation in the engine rules that are designed to control costs. The idea of 'the show' being too important is much relevant with double points, DRS and degrading tyres than the engine rules.

As far as making a car more reliable to make it go faster, logically that is quite easy: if you make something stronger you work it harder and so performance increases. The rules only allow changes if agreed to by the other manufacturers. The presumption is that the change is for reliability, safety or cost saving reasons, but it does not have to be for these reasons under the rules.

In the case of Mercedes turbo arrangement and potential desires for Renault and Ferrari to copy it, the turbo is a homologated item, although Appendix 2 of the technical regulations lists the turbine, shaft and compressor as examples, not a complete unit, and as such a longer shaft could be introduced for reliability reasons, which the MGU-H being moved for similar reasons.

13

Long dead

14

Wayne, let me attempt to answer your question using an example.

Say you've got a tyre that is relatively 'unreliable' and suffers from a greater than normal deflation when put under heavy use. Now you bring in reliability fixes e.g. a stronger valve to hold pressure, etc. and cure that problem. What you've done in addition to improving reliability is allowed the car to go faster as the tyre maintains the correct pressure for longer.

I'm sure you won't want the rules to include a clause to force this manufacturer to deliberately negate this 'incidental' performance gain by other means.

15

Renault used the reliability clause loophole to optimise their engine for diffuser blowing, which no other engine supplier could copy because of homologation.

I don't think anyone will be catching up with Merc with loophole though. This time, engine layouts will need to be radically changed for that to happen and that's impossible - Mercs advantage's are due to their novel turbo layout.

So it seems that Mercs advantage is locked in for 5 years (at least) even if the gap closes somewhat. With that in mind, even though I am a diehard McLaren fan, I very SHAMELESSLY grant myself overt and unreserved rights to honorary Mercedes fanhood!

16

Please mentally change the word "isn't" to "is" in the first line of my above post.

I wish this message board gave us a few minutes where we could edit our posts.

17

I don't think the Merc engine advantage is totally locked in.

I believe the engine freeze is to be temporarily lifted for the start of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The engine manufacturers can't implement performance improvements during the season, but they can be developing improvements to be implemented over the next two off-seasons.

Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.

18

As a by product of making a component more reliable, you can get more performance. There is no rule saying you cannot do this. Everyone has done it for years

19

+1

I agree with these comments. I feel that the whole idea of an engine freeze is a joke. If the FIA can't police their own rules around engine development, then just give the rights back to the teams to enhance the engines at free will.

If Bernie and Todt want a show, a pure arms race will give one heck of a show. If each race saw an increase in power due to engine performance upgrades, then we'll see more competition and better races.

And don't give me that BullSh!t about money spending. They will spend every penny they can get their hands on so let them spend it on this new technology so the rest of the world can reap from the entertainment and from the transfer of knowledge back into our road cars.

20

I agree. I see no reason to limit revs and stop development. I can remember getting very frustrated in the 80s with cars breaking down and the likes of Senna and Mansel not finishing, but the cars were being pushed to the limit of available technology, not just the limit of the rule book

21

You say that, but as James pointed out in an earlier article, Renault have already made "reliability" upgrades that have given the PU a 30bhp increase. Red bull look like they have very good downforce, if there are a few reliability upgrades they could be competing. Although you are probably still right about Mercedes becoming constructors champion.

22

There is all the talk about what MB did with it's engine design for the turbo, which offers an aero packaging advantage at the rear. This cannot be achieved by competition and apparently is a big contributor to the advantage.

I remind you MB pulled away at 2s per lap in Bahrain in full battle mode. That was all we needed to see to realize the cushion MB are sitting on. I don't believe in China we saw them stretch their legs. There was no need.

I'm going to say this MB will offer us the first season sweep for wins we have ever seen in F1. MB for years to come will wear the tag of most dominant car in F1 history....until a car sweeps a 20 race season.

23

Yup I agree, the Merc is well on track to be the most dominant car in the 30 odd years I've watched F1.

Red Bull can't catch them because they have a poor engine. Ferrari can't catch them because they have poor aero.

Merc have good aero and a staggeringly good PU. I also think that such is the Merc advantage that they're not running the engine at full chat in order to preserve it's life - so I expect very few retirements from them.

So this season...

Nico to prove he's not as good as Lewis.

Lewis to prove he's better than a rather average Nico Rosberg.

It's going to make Vettels 2011 title look hard-fought lol !

24

Until Ricciardo wins at Monaco. 😛

25

The advantage in the split turbo isn't just packaging. Apparently it vastly decreases lag and increases boost pressures (or something I read about it but are by no means a engineer :p). This in turn means less ERS is used spinning up the turbo and can be used for straight up power. Obviously over the other Merc teams it is packaging benefits but it could be stuff they aren't sharing with their customers as they don't have to by the FIA rules (although customer contract agreements might mean they have to)

My favourite quote when it comes to engine homologation comes from Renault, "80% of the parts on the engine were changed between 2006 and 2013". This was during an era of heavier restrictions so there is a lot to come next year when they are allowed to swap some parts for performance but also through "reliability" or "cost" changes. Not to mention software which will be a huge part of the engine package too.

26

I agree, I think the only thing that can beat Mercedes is a double DNF, like McLaren 1988, I don't think they'll be beaten on track.

The best odds I can find for a Merc clean sweep are 10/1, definitely putting some money on that.

27

@grat

Why would Mercedes NOT withhold information from their partners? They had a chance to kill ALL the competition, pretty sure they went for it. Besides, the Williams contract was signed later, if that crucial info about the engine layout wasn't withheld, one would expect a big difference in performance between Williams and the other Mercedes customer teams, and that's not exactly what we've seen so far.

28

You might have just jinxed it by saying it out aloud!

On the subject of the Merc remaining the benchmark engine in terms of power, I'm sure you're aware that Red Bull have won the last 4 championships with a similar (not in terms of magnitude, of course) disadvantage with the Renault engine - it was perhaps never the strongest. Even if Renault can be close enough, Newey's aero could well make them challenge Merc.

29

I think the aero benefit of the split turbo is being overstated-- certainly, it makes for a narrower profile, but it can't help the overall height, or center-of-gravity of the engine.

Further, I can't believe Williams, McLaren, and Force India didn't know the overall shape of the engine at least 12 months ago-- all accounts are that the split turbo design has been in place for some time, unless Mercedes deliberately withheld that information from their partners.

Doubtless, the Mercedes PU is better integrated into the W05 than the customer chassis, but the W05 is just a very, very good package overall. I'm curious to see how much more it can be developed over the season.

30
Jonathan Corwin

"Mercedes has work to do too, but it is closer to the maximum now than its rivals"

How can you be so sure?

31

It is pretty clear what James means to me. "The maximum" is the fastest lap time possible under the new rules. We do not know what that is but it is certain that the Mercedes are currently the fastest cars and therefore they are closer to the maximum.

32

Using that logic of course they are the closest to 'the maximum'. But if you consider that the lap record in China is 1:32.238 and this year the fastest lap was 1:40.402 then it brings home just how much room for improvement even Mercedes have. Now that's just over 8 seconds which is a lot but surely they can cut that by 2 maybe 3 seconds. So Mercedes know that there is so mug more scope to gain time before they start to worry about the law of diminishing returns and they will keep developing this car even next year the other teams will find it difficult to catch up. The other teams are still researching concepts Mercedes have already exhausted and by the time they figure these out Merc would be exploring other avenues and taking further steps forward.

33

Wing size, and hence downforce, was reduced this year so last years lap time is irrelevant; we just don't know what these cars could do.

That said I agree with the thrust of your argument that Merc are uncatchable this year. Next year, who knows, if the performance differentiator is still the power unit then they are surely looking good. However if the differentiator becomes aero Red Bull could well be back in contention.

34

Exactly....That assumption is based on another assumption that Mercedes are extracting 100% from PU, which might not be the case at all as they might have opted to be conservative for reliability reasons. We just dont know.

35

+1

allthat can said for sure is that Merc are further along the PU development, and when the teams catch up to that, in the meantime Merc will have developed it further and found more performance and general upgrades. so the other top tier teams will always be behind until the next major change in regulation.

Chances are high that Downforce optimisation is almost at full optomisation, versus PU/green F1, which is in its infancy in comparison. would not be surprised to see Merc dominate for a decade even given they have a five year start on the rest. For F1s sake, they better not get like McLaren did and limit the amount drivers race each other, if Bahrain is anything to go by then the dominance wont be so bad to watch 🙂

heres hopeing it continues though

36

Well I watch the races too. However does having the fastest car necessarily mean they have less scope for improvement? Leading teams in previous seasons have still managed to bring improvements throughout the year. Also in the wet and on certain types of corners other cars appear closer to them to me, so there may well be plenty of scope for aerodynamic improvement.

37

I fully agree. They are all different designs so there is no way of knowing

38

Maybe because he watches the races?

39
Alexander Supertramp

James is talking about the optimalisation of the current packages. I think it's safe to say that at this moment in time, the Merc package is closer to it's optimum than other teams.

40

They may be closer, but then we have to remember that they didn't used full power in any moment besides that last 10 laps on Bahrein.

Their engines are probably in better conditions than the closest competitors too.

So, they already have a gap bigger than they showed and room for development. They seem to be on a real good position for both championships.

41

Merc is surely not running its engines at full tilt right now. Lets not forget that Lewis set fastest lap of the Malaysia race with his engine turned down!

I'm afraid the other teams are way too far behind and it will take nothing short of high witchcraft to catch up. Boil eye of newt, dice the bat and stew the frog as they like, that witchcraft is also unlikely to make Mercs candle as much as flicker even next year.

42

Good point, In Bahrain they were both told to go with the same engine setting which is not necessarily the highest one

43

Not necessarily, on that logic Caterham will get to the front of the grid. maybe their car has more scope to improve than the others, all depends on the design of the respective cars. Fundamentally Red bull started as the best team/best car for the last few years and look how further ahead they were by the end of all the last 4 seasons. This is just F1 journalists trying to keep fans thinking the championship might be close. It won't be

44

flip that statement, what makes you so sure it wont be? the point is not to answer that question, its to realise that its a same answer logic to the one you gave, we simply dont know. if we did then there would be no need for industrial espionage 😉

45

That may be so, but the question is actually whose optimum is going to turn out to be the best?

And ofc will it be achieved before the season is lost.

46

…as it says in the piece

47

If Mercedes was able to leapfrog Ferrari and Redbull this year it is because they put a lot of their resources developing this years car. Do you think they have reach the maximum? They are not stupid to spend lots of money and then relax. As we can see from other previous multi-champion team like Ferrari and Redbull they are always hungry for more. Mercedes will dominate the sport like Redbull did until regulations change that one team is in advantage from the other.As to say Mercedes was on advance research long time ago before the rules change. By the way writer you have to explain why you said Mercedes near to its maximum? Explain it or as readers will just say ohh just a writers imagination.

48

It's a big ask. If any team is going to do it'll be Red Bull, but 97 points - already?

You could look at that and say so what, it's only 4 wins, but realistically it's going to be much, much harder to close the gap.

I think it's done and dusted, but I'll be happy to be wrong.

49

[I think it’s done and dusted, but I’ll be happy to be wrong.]

YEAP! I totally agree. What else can we say except that we hope we're wrong.

50

PS Random, slightly off topic, but Kate, Wills and George are in AUS at the moment.

Is Jonsey doing the driving?

"OK Alan, take us to the Opera House please."

"No problem Willy boy, I'm used to driving fast!"

51
heinzman (fan of: ALO)

Apologies mate, playful sentiment didn't quite carry!

Still, many of us do not understand what the big deal is, what does it mean to be honoured by another human being? But I know the monarchy/honours stuff is a big part of British culture 🙂 Lets hope Danni boy is next

52

"Liz, that wooly haired young chap from Australia is driving his balls off, beating that German bloke quite convincingly."

"He is Phil, perhaps we should invite him for tea some time this summer? We'll ask Wills and Kate to look out for him at Silverstone."

PS Daniel is a member of the BRDC - that's practically next to royalty in the British F1 industry!

53
heinzman (fan of: ALO)

Us Aussies could care less, have them back

54

Shouldn't it be that you "couldn't care less"? If you could care less, it means you care somewhat.

55

I guess the crowds of people lining up to see them are all tourists... 🙂

56

I was trying to be nice about it 🙂

57

That's a bit harsh?

Also, Jonsey (MBE) and Sir Jack Brabham were more than happy to accept honours from Liz and Phil!

58

Not sure, but doubtful...

59

97 points is a big margin, but it's WCC points, not WDC, so there's 43 points on the table at each race. That said, I'll be really impressed if RB/Ferrari/McLaren manage to be even on pace with Mercedes this year as they aren't going to laze around.

60

True, but if it's Merc that's bagging those 43 points each race (at least for the first part of the season) the gap's only going to get bigger and bigger.

Even if RBR do manage to overtake them midway through the year and start to get 1-2 finishes of their own, then if Merc still manage to finish 3rd & 4th RBR will still only be catching up 16 points per race - by then I doubt it's going to be enough.

61

Because points are scored to tenth position and each team has two cars, there will need to be numerous MB DNFs for both cars for the relative positions to change. We have seen this in previous seasons with this points system. If points were only allocated to the first three place getters there would be more scope for change during the season. I have never understood how this points system delivers reward for effort. In addition, team managers will become more reluctant to spend money on a futile chase. Budgets will begin to focus on 2015; it appears some teams are already at this point.

62

Milton Keynes can possibly close the gap - but can Paris? That's the big question.

Also, Nando and the Scuderia are pretty handy on front limited tracks such as Barcelona and Silverstone, so maybe the Prancing Horse can be in the mix as well?

Or is that just wishful thinking?

PS Personally I think Daniel is a shoe-in on the new series of TG in the F1 Star in a reasonably priced car this summer. "GET OUT OF MY WAY SEBASTIAN!" "SEBASTIAN, YOU'RE GOING TOO SLOW!" et al.....

63

"Milton Keynes can possibly close the gap"

Arguably the Red Bull chassis is slightly better than the Merc. Does that mean that Merc can close the gap to Red Bull on the chassis and aero side and still have the PU advantage and actually increase the gap? Is this more likely than Renault eliminating their power deficit?

64

I think we'll see Dan on Top Gear some time soon.

Ferrari should get some good results, even McLaren (even McLaren! How times change...) should get some good results, but I think 2014 is going to be about whether or not RBR can catch up to Merc, and if they're going to have any chance of doing that that then you're right - those French guys really need to get their act together soon.

65

I don't think RBR will let Dan on Top Gear, it's bad enough him showing up Vettel on the track than on a motoring magazine show..

66

Agree, even if Bulls improve Mercs won't deteriorate to 3 best or lower team so will still collect enough points on average. Unless some heavy reliability issues it's just a matter of which driver. Would prefer a tight battle despite being a ham fan as winning under pressure is so much sweeter. At the moment it's kinda like Mike Tyson beating up on a regular bloke!

67

More like Mike Tyson beating up on twenty regular blokes.

Only twenty you say? Yes, Mike doesn't have to worry about beating up Pastor; his good friend the pit wall is doing that for him 😉

68

@Quade - Maldonado blink? He'd have to open his eyes first 😉

@Sebee - Agreed. Considering I was saying a year ago that Mercedes was going to implode under the pressure of too many chiefs I have to admit now that I might have been just a little bit wrong.

69

I would think Maldonado and the pit wall are playing a clever game, trying to gain an understanding about how far they can push each other. Its all about who blinks first. Man or wall?!

70

I'm still in a bit of a shock that all that 100hp advantage chest beating last year turned out true.

I don't think we recognize this point. To call such an advantage takes huge stones. To deliver it takes huge skill. I thought it was all smoke and mirrors.

71

Did you just call Nico Rosberg a regular driver? 🙂

72

This is the only wild card Matt. Late in the season we will see if this MB PU lasts or has a reliably weakness.

Anything can happen of course, but we have to go with the data we have. And that data indicate 2s per lap advantage when MB are at 100% and reliability is solid.

73

If you run out of 5 engines, you allowed to use 6th engine but with a 10 place grid penalty

74

@PB

Ok, but if I understood it correctly, there's a limit of 5 PUs per car for the season. What happens if someone blow all 5 before the season ends?

75

To be realistic, unreliability towards the end of PU life migth still not be enough. It's only a 10 place grid penalty to change the PU so even if they had to replace some of their PUs (asusming in different races for the two drivers) towards the end of the season, they might still be out of reach. Qualifying near the top (if not 1-2) and starting just outside the point scoring places, it would still be easy score lots of points in the race.

Of course the thing could blow up midrace, but then we haven't exactly seen a Renault or Ferrari PU doing 5 races yet either!

It will take a genuine 'miracle' to prevent Merc from taking both titles this year.

76

It's difficult to see how any team other than Mercedes can win the Constructors Championship, their race pace advantage is such that they would have to throw it away.

The Drivers Championship is there for Hamilton to take as well, Rosberg is starting to look ragged in his driving and his face in the 'cool down room' yesterday said it all.

77

Drivers world champion feels like a bit of a misnomer given that realistically there are only two drivers in this championship. Everyone else is going round in circles rather pointlessly, unable to compete. To my mind this significantly devalues the eventual winner, much like Button who only had to beat Barrichello given the 2 second a lap advantage Brawn started the season with.

Its frustrating that the FIA could not engineer a more competitive formula given the rule changes. Mercedes making such a large investment in these rules while other were fighting the championship means that we have a skewed formula which is not competitive at the front. Take Merc out of the picture and we would have quite an interesting season so far.

78

I'm sure Merc will turn down their engines toward the end of the season to give the illusion of a completion and to fertilise the sort of speculation that's healthy for the sport.

79

Well, it's difficult to engineer competitive racing with so many parameters. The FIA has been changing parameters over the years (e.g.engines, tyres, aero, points system) to change the order and/or make it more competitive but most often than not, it changes to another dominance, with the rich teams catching over time.

The fact of the matter is that this is not the first time that the title is dominated by a team (remember McLaren in 80s, Williams in 92, 93, 96, Ferrari 04, Brawn 09, RBR 11), so well done to Mercedes for this year. Next year will probably be closer between Merc, RBR and Ferrari.

80

I think that the Mercedes team domination so far isn't just the power unit, otherwise the constructors championship would be dominated by the four (?) Mercedes p.u teams. they have obviously built a brilliant package.

I hope that means we'll start to see some of the other teams start to challenge them for wins as the season develops, and the Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, etc teams improve their overall packages and close the (huge) gap to the Mercedes team.

Otherwise the Red Bull / Vettel nine in a row yawn fest of 2013 will start to look like the 'good ole days' of close racing

81

Well. Red Bull isn`t a works team. Marko just recently told us he was visiting Renault to start to correct big mistakes they made there. That doesn`t sound like a works team talk. They were miles away from Merc or even Ferrari -like involvement level.

They are closest to Renault as showed us Bahrain where they get new spec MU. Others had to wait.

That can put things into perspective how far away can mercedes customers be understanding MU, how to package it, how to set it up on Mercedes level.

The thing is there is a lot new and innovative technology that can be used in a very different places in life and it costs a lot. One can think it is protected very carefully and with many patents. Question is to what extent Red Bull can own MU related patents helping Renault that closely.

My point is they will never work as closely and effectively as Mercedes or Ferrari. If Red Bull wants to be involved in f1 long term they need to start to have their own technology and even MUs.

82

yes mate, but I think only merc has the latest updates of the PU. Do you think Mclaren has these updates?

83

I'm sure in commentary last year there was a mention of Mercedes filtering updates to McLaren after in order to protect their development from potential Honda infiltration

84

We haven't heard Ron Denis howling for blood, so probably. We have heard, for instance, Tony Fernandes complaining that Caterham isn't getting engine parity.

85

You are right. Merc, Ferrari and Red Bull(works Renult team) seem the strongest. So maybe the works teams have an advantage with integration that is more important than just outright power?

86

I still don't understand one thing: Ferrari and Renault are allowed to imrpove their engine on safety and reliability, and yet Renault is talking about making up a

22 km/u speed deficit. Isn't that a performance improvement?

87

From what I understand, Renault have been advising the teams to run the PU at a little less than the maximum RPM for reliability reasons. Once they can stop the engine committing suicide at full revs, the speed deficit should lessen.

However, I'm wondering if the Renault powered teams will still have problems in terms of power (torque at peak revs) and drivability. I'm not sure that the latter is completely solvable via software, but I'm sure it can be lessened.

And it's not as if Merc are going to be standing still. Trying to come close to Merc is like trying to hit a moving target. Did Merc not already being a PU related "reliability" upgrade for China? And with the new nose finally passing the crash test, it seems that the team are not done with aero/chassis either.

The other teams may be able to catch up somewhat to Merc's current performance, but the real question for me is; where will Merc be in relation to their current form when the other teams start to make gains?

88

I think the McLaren P1, with its torque fill, is a pretty good indication that better software should enable the driveability the drivers want. A change in turbo design for reliability or cost could easily change the hardware aspect quite easily.

There is the question of whether Mercedes on its aero development path is on the one with the most potential. No reason to think that it isn't, but the Brawn was an example of a highly developed car that was on not quite the right road.

89

@ Yago, it's a bit of both actually.

Yes in 2009 they certainly fired a lot of people to keep the team alive. They were very lucky that much of the car's early developments were done before the season began, so they had a pretty good base car to start with.

In mid-2009, Jenson did mention that the car was not the same as the one he drove at the beginning of the season. Prior to that in 2007 and 2008, Jenson said the front and rear of the car never seem to be in sync with each other in terms of setup. The way he put it was the front and rear always seem to be arguing.

It will be interesting to see whether Mercedes (essentially the same team from Brawn / Honda) can stay on the right track in their developments in 2014.

90

Well I actually think the problem with Brawn was a lack of resources to develop the car, rather than not being quite in the right road. The Red Bull design was not necessarily the unique right concept if double diffusers weren't baned, I believe.

91

I've heard that McLaren is doing the ERS unit for the new Honda engine. Not been able to stand that up yet, but will be fascinating if it's true

92
kenneth chapman

@ rusty... 'a little less than maximum revs?' from what i have seen published no one gets anywhere near maximum revs with the highest being only 12500rpm. the actual average was between 10500/11000 rpm.

by your assumption it is a direct extrapolation from revs to speed trap figures?

from what i have read the torque curve flattens out at approx 10500 rpm. any additional revs does not increase speed but just burns more more fuel. this anomaly was forecast in technical journals over 12 months ago.

i have already asked for some 'enlightened comment' re this speed trap anomaly as i was under the impression that gearing was the main differentiator.

hopefully someone directly associated with the engine\PU builders will come up with some likely reasons and what can be done to improve the slower cars.

93

No that's maximising what they have already - they aren't getting the most out of it yet

94

James is the 22km/u speed deficit down to the Red Bulls being geared wrong as the speed trap figures for the other Renault teams don't look to bad.

95

Gearing, downforce level etc to run the car at optimum

Last year they won the title while still being near the bottom of the speed traps!

96

Can Merc do the same then and basically nullify the others improvements ?

97

Merc are already closer to the maximum potential of their engine. They may be able to improve by say 10%, but ferrari and renault will make much bigger gains.

98

I've been wondering this too. They obviously aren't going to sit and watch everyone else catchup

99

Formula 1 creates a need for rapid development .

So the top teams will use the next 3 weeks to push forward updates including the implementation of new Aero Packages,Engine mapping & ERS development.

So I dont see the likes of Red Bull & Ferrari sitting on there hands & whistling Dixie.

They will do everything to try & catch up to the Mercedes Team.

Whether they achieve this depends how far Mercedes are developing their Drive Trains, Aero & ERS units.

The one team that normally catches up rapidly is Mclaren but it seems they've lost alot on driver input since Lewis left.

I reckon they still have a great development team & I hope they do rise from the mire. With Ron back I hope they get back to winning ways.

I doubt that any team will get to the level of Mercedes as car is still developing & with a huge manufacturer paying the bills the car seems to be bullet proof.

I reckon Mercedes will win Constructors & Drivers titles in 2014. The rest will be close but not close enough.

100

I agree with your sentiments.

Having said that, perhaps Renault F1 can find some more of everything to give Dan and Seb a better suit of armour - but that's a big if........

101

I doubt there's anyone at RB or Ferrari that even knows that tune! Though there may be local versions..

102

The key to what happens next, as in any F1 season, is development. Last season Red Bull was off the pace at the start of the year but then won nine straight victories in the second half. That was down to development; Red Bull did a lot of it while many of their rivals did less, instead focussing on the new 2014 hybrid technology.

One thing that isn't mentioned here is the tyres in 2013. RBR started poorly because they prepared poorly for tyres they knew were coming. They lobbied for change louder than most because they probably knew what it would mean for their car. They got change. They subsequently dominated.

I know development was a factor (it must have been) but surely tyres were equally - if not more - important. Didn't newey admit as such after the season?

103

Yes, the new tyres were the main reason RBR dominated the back half of last season. Even before the change, the tracks where tyres had the least wear (Bahrain and Canada) were cakewalks for Vettel; the tracks where the tyres had the highest deg (Spain, China) were troublesome.

104

Paul Hembrey was even warning that one team was hoing to drive away if the tires were changed. He knew

105

Yes... he implied very strongly that they deliberately made the tyres [dangerously] soft to disadvantage Red Bull.

What a guy

106

Short answer...No.

107

Good news or bad news?

Good news is Red Bull have an excellent pedigree and strategy for an aggressive development upgrades for the European/Canada summer season - and upgrades that actually work. The Bulls have the resources, infrastructure, personnel, brains and clarity of thought to constantly tweak and refine their machines to find extra incremental performance.

The bad news is.........for this season it is incumbent on Renault F1 to provide more torque, more BHP, more drive-ability, more efficiency than in previous seasons. Can they do it? We'll find out.

Can Mercedes be caught before its too late? I would say on a pragmatic level, on a championship level no......but perhaps - just perhaps - there could be some tracks such as Barcelona and Monaco coming up where Dan and Seb can keep the Mercs very honest.

We'll see!

108

Even spain has a few longish straights and by no means is the merc suffering from lack of DF, monaco is about the only chance in medium term of a non-merc win

109

I don't think Monaco will be a problem for Merc, they'll lose a lot of engine advantage but their downforce and mechanical grip seem at least as good as everyone else. Plus, even if someone pulls out a banzai lap and sticks it on pole, normally they'd be able to hold them back; the Merc has such a pace advantage this year (larger than the undercut advantage on the tyres) that there's just no way to hold them off, similar to Ferrari in France 2004.

110

I personally don’t think the Red Bulls have a chance there either, because of required acceleration out of slow corners. The Mercedes drivability and delivery of power is incredible. I doubt Mercedes will be challenged at all this year. If a little luck is on their (Mercedes) side I could see them winning every race and making history, that is how dominant they look.

111

Oddly enough, Red Bull has been one of the weaker tracks during the Pirelli era.

OK, Sebastian won in 2011 - just! - but in the last couple of years the Bulls have been 2nd rate, mainly too much understeer meant they were burning up their front tyres quickly. I think I'm right in saying Sebs 4th place last year in Spain has been Bull's best result at Barcelona in the last 2 years.

Having said that, Barcelona is always upgrade race, we'll have to see what incremental gains the teams have found from a new front wing design, rear suspension, radiator sidepods et al......

The development war starts now! Well, probably tomorrow actually, when the team's personnel have got over the jet lag.....

112

If it were a Lotus keyboard, your posts would veer off track, spew oil, and crash into a wall unexpectedly.

113

I meant Red Bull AT BARCELONA has been one of their weaker tracks during the Pirelli era.

Damm, why was I tempted by this Renault keyboard????

Could be worse though.....could be a McLaren or Lotus keyboard!!!!

114

Correct on Williams' and McLaren's early season failure to succeed with the Merc engine. Goes to show just how McLaren have changed from being the dominant team not all that long ago to struggling, even with a power advantage.

115

To be frank, I think Williams have done an awesome job considering where they were last year. Missed opportunities for sure, but it's been a long time since they've been able to even contemplate regular points finishes, let alone podiums.

116

Cant believe how poor macca are this year, its so odd the time gap between merc and macca with same engine in place. For me this highlights what a good job merc have done.

Gotta wonder how long it will be before they are at the front again, clearly they have the budget. Be surprised if they are even in the mix next year as honda will be a "year behind"

Gotta say I love that hamilton has totally been vindicated for jumping ship!

117

Lewis Hamilton was certainly lucky to move when he did to Merc. I sometimes wonder about the specific discussions between Lewis, Niki Lauda, and Ross Brawn as Mercedes were attempting to entice Lewis to sign with them. I'm sure they were fascinating!

In F-1 legends are made by moving to another team at the right time; Vettel to Red Bull, Alonso to Renault, Schumacher to Ferrari to name but a few.

118

Sorry, but he was approached by Niki and Ross because they rated him as a top driver, and he made the decision to move. It's not like he won the lottery.

119

Well... Ferrari wasn't exactly a paradise to be when Schumacher jumped into. I may say that it was him who make'em dominant (along with Ross, Rory and the gang...)

120

2012 was the year we saw the demise of McLaren

They had the fastest car, the fastest driver and totally messed it up.

Lewis lost over 100 points due to strategy (pit stops) and reliability.

I can't stand Ron Dennis recently, he seems so up himself, without anything to back it up.

121

I would go even further and say Macca have been in a gentle decline since the beginning of 2009.

122

Exactly the year when Whitmarsh took the position of Team Principal, and also exactly the reason why he was needed to go.

123
kenneth chapman

history is littered with failed empires.

124

McLaren sadly are looking like old has beens that just can't cut it anymore. I somehow doubt that McLaren will win any races this year despite Ron Dennis's assertion. - They might do better next year if the Honda unit is up to it, but somehow this years car seems to be going in the wrong direction. 2012 has been their best recent year and they fluffed it.

125

McLaren are very much in danger of falling back to where Williams has been in the last 4-5 years. Dennis doesn't seem to realise that F1 has changed in the last 5 years and seems completely out of place in his current role (whatever that may be). Belief in JB as a top-tier driver also seems to be misplaced, and let's not start with this McLaren PR business about "racing to win". Something is not right with that team and you can sense an air of demise and decay there. They really need to get the structure right before Honda come on board fully. You could quite feasibly see Honda rocking up with a good engine, only to then be cherry picked by an RBR or other current Renault team that appears to have its act together more than McLaren.

126

Yes having Ron Dennis back in the paddock is 'interesting'. Personally I've missed his tortured 'Ron Speak' which, as a native English speaker, I've always found un-fathomable.

Having said that Mr. Dennis is quite an accomplished business leader and I'd be surprised if McLaren continue to languish behind the others for long. Jenson Button had best beware of speaking too often to members of the media when it comes to McLaren deficiencies.

127

I believe it's too late for other teams to catch up with Mercedes.

Apparently since Prost in 1989, no driver has won the title without winning a race of the first 4 races at the start of the season.

But unlike last season, the competition have no choice but to develop their cars as the 2015 rules are pretty similar >>> hopefully the other teams can do the job sooner rather than later for it's much better seeing different winners i.e. Vive competition.

Meanwhile, I think Mercedes' excellent performance may not necessarily be down to starting work early but rather in investing in the right personnel.

For instance Ferrari begun work on 2014 two years ago but still weren't able to produce a competitive package because they didn't get the right staff earlier.

P.s.

From what I recall in 2013, Horner said from the very first race that Red Bull had a very good car that was only getting held back by the tyres.

Once these got changed, only then did we see the full capability of the Red Bull.

128

I think you're correct.

With regards to Merc, yes - spot on. The Brackley brigade have been planning for this season for the best part of 2 years, recruiting new personnel - some blokes called Paddy and Lewis among them apparently - and investing heavily and thoroughly for this new turbo-hybrid formula.

I'm also led to believe that, joint equal with the Bulls, that Merc have the biggest budget in F1. That always helps - if you spend it wisely!

PS I'm a bit disappointed with Rosberg Junior. He has been thoroughly trounced in qualifying, the race - and racecraft - by Lewis. Having said that, Lewis has matured well, he is in the prime of his life and career, and he has that sweet spot with his car.

If Mr Rosberg doesn't improve, I suspect that Merc will place an advert in Autosport, mid summer this year, reading:

"Wanted: Young man wanted to drive our car for 2016 season - possibly even 2015 season. Must be hungry, dedicated, motivated, and able to race expertly with our main man Lewis. We'll discuss salary at interview. Please e-mail our website, or pop into our HQ at Brackley, Northamptonshire. No agencies and time wasters please."

129

Where's Rosberg in the standings?!?! I agree he's been beaten in all of the last 3 races by Lewis, but you don't get points for artistic impression in F1. He's still up by 4 points. If I didn't know that, I'd think he was 30-40 pts back reading some of the comments.

130

I would sell my family into slavery to see Vettel vs Hamilton in a Merc superteam next year.

131

Oh! every race would give me a way unhealthy thrill. I'd need my heart to be medically slowed down after every race.

132

Yes, that would be a mouth watering combination, wouldn't it!

133

@ Gaz Boy

I heard rumours that the first time Rosberg/Lewis were teammates in the junior categories, Keke told Nico never to partner with Lewis again after he won the inter-team battle back then.

134

Well, it's not like Nico had a choice, Lewis just turned up!

135

I wonder if Brackley will swap Nico's for if not next year, then 2016?

I suspect the Incredible Hulk is on the shopping list of Ferrari as well.

136

Alonso's manager would like to know the address of the website advertising the job you just mentioned...

137

I suspect the Brackley bunch will wait a few races, but possibly around Hungary, check out the Autosport Motorsport Jobs section...........

Actually I do know, that on average, for every time when the British F1 teams post a vacancy in Autosport's jobs section, just one job gets an average of at least 500 replies! Sometimes, it's even more than that - I've been told that Red Bull once had 1000 replies for 2 vacancies!

Just shows you how competitive working in the F1 industry really is.

138

Nah, Rosberg, while not quite keeping up with Hamilton, is at least putting some pressure on him.

Remember all that talk about Mercedes recruiting too many technical people, and having "too many chiefs"? Not only did that give Mercedes the depth to develop two cars at once (the dead end W04), but it allowed them to develop the W05... and probably in parallel with the W02, W03 and W04.

It also may have meant a shortage of top design talent for the other 10 teams, but that might be overthinking things.

139

Actually, the comment about Merc having the cream of the design talent at the expense of the other teams is a very valid point, I never thought of that!

Only Milton Keynes have equality to Brackley in terms of design capability.

In other words, Team Brackley are the magpies of F1? Can't blame though - whatever it takes to be successful in F1.......

140

Maybe the other Nico will answer the add

141

That would be an excellent recruitment!

142

He did say that, which is stupid because they knew how the 2013 tyrs were going to be and yet they decided to completely ignore that when they designed their 2013 challenger.

143

So far we've seen the biggest advantage of Mercedes on tracks dependant on traction, hallmark of Tilke designs. Let's see what happens in the high downforce, twisty tracks like Barcelona and Silverstone, and Austria now that it's revamped with long high speed turns.

144

Looking for a race as much as the next guy but it's not as if Mercedes are winning by a slight margin here. So maybe they cut their advantage by half? That's still half a second a lap!

145

Other Renault powered teams were not as slow as the red bulls, but RB have awesome downforce, which will create drag..... So I don't think the Renault is as "slow" as RB make it out to be. But the Merc is a solid PU.

146

Lewis Hamilton's move from McLaren will now be viewed as genius - but how did he and many F1 commentators know how good Merc would be for 2014? Sure, they were throwing big money at the car and engine, but so were others .... I am just interested to know how those on the outside seemed to know so much.

147

From what I've read, the question wasn't really about car performance or money, but Lewis deciding he wanted to escape the McLaren environment. I suspect for Lewis he would have enjoyed winning in Bahrain more than Malaysia or China as he had a fight rather than a cakewalk. He used his racecraft to cover for an inferior set up.

Considering the doors were shut at Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari for various reasons, Mercedes was his only option. Lauda convinced him that it was a viable move and he got to move out of the home he'd been attached to since he was 12. The comments from UK journalists was that at McLaren he was still treated a bit like the talented kid who was still learning rather than an experienced F1 driver.

148
MistressofSpeed

Genius or not, what prior knowledge did Hamilton have regarding McLaren's move to Honda engines? I'm sure it would have been an 'open' secret among the pristine yet hallowed halls of the MTC.

If I were him and I knew that my team were to be relegated to a factory team for a year and then play catch up as the only works team for Honda, then despite any romantic/nostalgic notions of having the opportunity to excel in a 'McLaren/Honda Senna package', I too would 'bolt' safe in the knowledge that Ross Brawn was the man most likely to be preparing an awesome package for the new V6 era with a Brixworth-Mercedes engine.

Surely, unless Hamilton could be certain Honda were able to produce a package to both rival and surpass any that was likely to be borne of his longstanding relationship with engines from Brixworth, why waste what are likely to be his 'optimal' years with an F1 team that have put themselves in a position where it may take them until 2016 to come good.

Whereas, on the face of it, he could and will accomplish a lot in the intervening years with MercedesAMGF1.

149

Far more salient than the power unit itself is the fact that Mercedes invested way more resources into the development of the hybrid 2014 car than other teams did. (Note that McLaren currently have the same engine as Mercedes)

This proactive approach is indeed a signature characteristic of Ross Brawn's approach to F1 car development.

Did Hamilton know this was going to be the case when he left Macca? I would think so.

My guess is that Lewis made a judgement about the long-term development strategies of both McLaren and Mercedes and decided in favour of the german team.

150

Ps to answer your question more directly, I am not sure if anyone knew at the time how good Merc would be. I certainly do not recall any articles to that effect.

151

A good question. I remember at the time Hamilton was being attacked in the media (including here) for being more of a wannabe celeb than sportsman, and disloyal to McClaren, but that criticism seems to have evaporated.

I think Hamilton has vindicated himself tremendously - his judgement was wonderful.

Unlike, say Alonso, who had to be with the big red car, Lewis followed his instincts, went to what was then a mid-ranking team. His call has paid off handsomely, as everyone can see.

That's not forgetting that he fired his Dad as his manager, another brave step, a move completely misinterpreted here and elsewhere.

He keeps breaking British driver records too, but you would hardly know it, it does not get very much coverage.

152

The answer is he didn't but was convinced by Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda that it would be the thing to do. I am rather sad Ross is no longer there because much of this will be down to him putting the right things and people in place. - No doubt he is watching from afar!

153

Might also be that he simply knew which direction McLaren was heading in. Lewis drove splendidly in 2012 and was seriously let down by the team and car. That had to factor into his thinking.

154

Well Martin Whitmarsh was certainly made a bit of a donkey decision in suddenly switching to pull-rod front car in the regulation's final year, rather than to build on the good 2012 car and maximise its chances. Lewis probably saw that coming and felt it's time to go.

155

I don't think it's a case of knowing but more taking an educated decision based on facts like Merc being engine supplier, putting resources in place long in advance of this year etc.

156

James,

As Matt has pointed out Lewis move to Mercedes was genius. I remember at the time lots of talk about Mercedes concentrating on the 2014 season. Why are we not hearing more about Lewis's inspired move and how he was right?

It is now a no brainer that he did not stay at Mclaren.

Thanks

Jolgas.

157

he had faith in ross brawn ...and how right he was !

the engine would be the same in either case

I am saddened by the fact that the new talking heads have never once acknowledged the debt they owe brawn for the superiority of this years car , finally a chassis on a similar level to red bull

158

Daniel still doing a great job , and so are Red bull allowing Daniel to pass Seb . I think Seb has also matured by letting Daniel get by ,he is a champion by doing that. Seb is getting faster and I think soon will have some major run in with Daniel.

159

Remember Newey saying that Mark Webber being more sensitive to aero than Seb. This is Seb's weakness that Daniel can exploit to his advantage, if RedBull needs aero feedback.

160

Yes, Newey said Webber's strength was in aero and that Vettel's was in mechanical grip. Both the man and the kid contributed to the development of the Red Bull cars.

If that's the case, the Vettel's strength certainly doesn't seem to be very strong in 2014 where he degrades his tyres very badly.

161

Are you saying Vettel possibly owes a large part of his success to Webber? Ironic.

162

That's too strong but Webber certainly did all the aero development work

163

Are you Sebastians father? 😉

164

Or Helmut Marko in disguise with the internet alias of "George"

165

How do we know that the F1 industry doesn't view this forum?

We don't - so for all we know the likes of Luca, Ron, Claire, Eric, Adrian and so on are sneakily viewing this forum, possibly even looking for fresh ideas!

166

I think this season it is too late already, but the next one is open and I think it will be Red Bull again next year. Are the rules the same for next year?

167

Let's hope they'll take away double points for next year though.

169

The constructors WC is over. The drivers WC, except for Rosberg and Hamilton, is over. To suggest that Ferrari or Red Bull are going to somehow gain 40 / 50 seconds a race, essentially through aero development, while Mercedes gain nothing, is ludicrous.

Watch the TV audiences / track attendance fall and fall and fall, while the FIA harp on how the cars are now "relevant" to the motor industry.

170
David in Sydney

What?

So you'd rather see cars less relevant to the motor industry and have closer racing?

I love the new F1. The engines. The cars (goodbye wide front wings -even the noses I'ev gotten used to).

More tyre suppliers wouldn't go astray... I don't like the spec tyre rules... but this is shaping up to be a classic F1 season... a car development race with drivers doing their bit on track.

There are still 15 races to go.

171

you want to go back to the era when the tyre manufacturers tuned their product to a particular team , bridgestone for all those ferrari wins and michelin for the renault

better a level playing field

172

didn't pirelli changed their tyres because of red bull cry? even when they were using the tyres wrong, everybody (red bull) asked for a change... then Lotus and Ferrari were screwed by that...

174

Completely true. And frankly I feel this stupid rule on engine freezing is just going to ensure that any team that innovates early on will be ensured that they can run away with the title. I don't understand how this benefits the fans though? I for one am tired of watching one team virtually always running away with the season. Why not allow one change one quarter way through a season, so if teams are left out by a particular innovation, they can at least catch up. They will still be behind after all. F1 I feel is losing interest in what fans want over what the entire inside community wants. Part of the fun was watching teams progress through the year and now we already know there is no competition for the titles. Ridiculous.

175

Engine homologation is not new.

176

You don't change the rules of the game to suit a weaker competitor. That's cheating.

177

But should it apply in year one with only a few hours track testing before the freeze is applied. The current situation was always a likely consequence!

178

Its odd that people make it seem tht merc has already hit their development plateau. If rbr or ferrari can find 1 second of lap time, what's to say that mercedes doesn't find 1.5 seconds since they have less problems to iron out and more time to focus on bringing mre speed... Just a thought

179

Agree and very true.

In pre-season testing, while everybody were still sorting out their car issues, Merc was already bringing upgrades!

180

Rbr, ferrari, mclaren, lotus are all talking up hw much more they bringing to the table and wat the calculations suggest while mercedes are sitting quietly and doing their own thing. Wats to say they are only 50% up on the development programme. If merc has only managed to get their front wing which the car was designed around after 4 races, wat about all th other parts in mind that are intended to work in harmony with that wing design....

181

Finding extra 1.5 sec pace on top of the current one is virtually impossible. The closest you come to the ceiling the smaller fractions are tougher to achieve. There are certain limitations. Tires, fuel flow, engine units per season and transmissions to mention a few.. So to dig into something so deep it would pose a serious challenge and possibly even compromise the reliability. Realistically there is more to expect others to close the existing gap. First and foremost constructors that utilizing Mercedes customer engines and then Renault and Ferrari as well since they are so much far behind in their developments right now.. How long it would take is difficult to predict but probably 1/2 way trough the season lap times are to be expected to be tighter, much tighter then what are today. After all if that doesn't happen there would be nothing to watch apart from Mercedes 1 - 2. Not so much fun even if you are LH or NR fan.

182

"The closest you come to the ceiling the smaller fractions are tougher to achieve."

Agree, but how are you sure to say they are near their ceiling level already? They may well have a lot of room to develop.

183

Kartrace, using common sense (not "sence"), you'd find that looking at other MB powered cars does not suggest MB are close to the ceiling. They only suggest:

1. their cars were not designed with the best all-round packaging due to being customers

2. MB achieved that as they developed the car AND engine together

However in no way these two points can tell MB have achieved maximum in the car's development. Just simply look back to McLaren's MP4-17 which turned into the following year's MP4-17D, so it was essentially car that was over a year old that was raced by Kimi yet he won races with it.

184

Using common sence here is telling us that they are pushing so not much space for sanbagging and BTW aren't all of us speculate, therefore only Mercedes knows how much and how far they are from that "ceiling". As I explained looking at other MB powered teams they appear to be pretty close to that ceiling and only time could tell who is right and who is wrong. Till then only speculations are on the table.

185

Personally, I'm a LH and mercedes fan and its great seeing him winning again but to be totally honest, this is boring. Will be a lot mre exciting seeing a fight fr the championship. Lol I can't understand how vettel fans enjoyed ths sought of domination fr so long

186

I understand and accept what you are saying and you are for the better part correct, but my point is this... How do we know what percentage th merc PU is running at? Perhaps they have turned it down to 75% power for reliability purposes or maybe they saving the pu frm excessive wear over the season. Its been said the the rbr has great, if not the best aero package. If this is true then surely the merc will also improve on this area. Ths is only 4 races of development for all the teams including merc, we saw rbr refine a great design frm 09-13. Hereto, merc has a practically unlimited budget. The merc-ury levels are surely on the rise.

187

I would say that performance of the slower cars and the performance of the faster cars statistically gives us a picture of the true potential of Mercedes engine. Maybe Ferrari and Renault are a bit down on power but not extremely, maybe they were just more conservative for the sake of reliability and fuel consumption concerns. Once they see where they are standing there is no one to stop them form releasing more power. In my view all engines are of the same cubic capacity and Mercedes was just far more opportunistic in unleashing that power sooner, maybe even taking the risk of being potentially unreliable in the opening races. You know German mentality ; it is called "The Blitz Krieg". I hope this is the case here. Only time will tell.

188

+1

Didn't see Red Bull hitting their "development plateau" the past four years, so how do you think that Mercedes will stall in development. Mercedes has the resource, brains and the ultimate motivator (wins) to develop their car even further. Other teams might get closer to their time, but there is no stopping Mercedes anytime soon.

189

It's called law of diminishing returns its easier to find 1.5s if you are 2s

The problem others have is integration.

190

And consider that Hamilton didn't have to push at all in China. As we saw in Bahrain after the safety car, we might not yet have seen the true gap between Merc and the rest.

191

I really don't see how other teams can catch Mercedes given that they twoo will be looking to make the biggest step by Barcelona and beyond. Of course there comes a point of diminishing returns, but we really do not know yet where that is. I suspect if the other teams particularly Red Bull do close up to a degree, it will be Rosberg that suffers as a consequence rather than Hamilton because if he fails to out qualify them, they will prove very difficult to catch in those circumstances. The area Mercedes have to improve is aerodynamics and down force as already the Red Bull is superb in those areas.

192

"but it is closer to the maximum now than its rivals so there will be diminishing returns as the season goes on." Seriously? I have great respect for you, but what makes you feel that they are closer to optimum. Why not other teams have reached optimum in their respective design? As there are no major rule changes for next year, every team would continue to develop their car relentlessly, unless someone feels their concept is not right and start afresh. Isn't it good for Merc that they have, what seems to be right concept and continue aggressive development on it to carry over that advantage, without thinking about a new design for next year.

193

Agree.

Also let us remember Newey's McLaren MP4-17, which turned into 17D because the 18 failed. So Kimi that year essentially drove a year-old car to beat the opposition, only narrowly missing out on the title.

So again, James, who's to say Mercedes have reached their optimum or ceiling of development?

194

Of course not. It's a new technology.

But they are closer to maximising the performance of what they have at present than the others

And are further down the road in development. Renault are a month behind, by their own admission and Ferrari haven't said how far they are behind

195
racing_dynamics

maximising performance?? what's the max? 80/100? 90/200? 100/500? 1 month behind?? LOL even if the Silver Arrows go on hols for 1 month no one will be able to get near em.. "eat my dirt""

196

Their software, ERS and engine are all working fine, compared to Ferrari AND Renault who have some issues. That's what he means by diminishing returns; Ferrari and RB can make bigger gains as they are not just making refinements like Merc, they are trying to get the parts to actually work well.

197

Just have a look on what Red Bull did from RB5 onwards, refinement over refinement.

Having had the concept right, they could focus on trowing new ideas over it, and were always in front of development. Flexi wings, blown diffuser, flex keel floor, pull rod rear suspension, engine mapping to blow the diffuser, etc.

They invented every trick (that worked, not) over the last few years except from the F-duct.

198

And DDRS

199

and except coanda effect exploitation

200

This is the crazy thing about double points for the last race. Hamilton could have a 49 point lead and then retire and Rosberg nicks it....I think that is artificial and a farce and hope the title os mot decided that way....

201

I worked out the other day that Lewis could win 13 races and Nico only 5 and Nico would win it...

202

Lewis could win 15 and Nico 4, and Nico could still win.

203

Agree, Why would anyone think double points is a good idea? It's a cheap gimmick not worthy of F1.

204
David in Sydney

Yes, the double points rule are not in the interests of the Championship and should be dropped.

Everyone write a letter requesting this to every team in F1 and you'll get change. Whinge about it all year without doing anything and it'll be dumped for 2015. Maybe.

205
kenneth chapman

looking at the constructors points it is apparent that mercedes will most likely take the championship quite easily.

yes, it is only four races in however mercedes already have in total points just marginally less than that the collective total of the next three teams!

that is why these early four races are so important for the championship. all mercedes need to do is hammer home top three finishes for the next five races and they will be almost unbeatable.

of course in F1 anything is possible but i somehow feel that they have boxed it up and it is now a seemingly smooth run to the finish given no monumental catastrophe.

206

Indeed, it is hard to see anyone else bar a silver car taking the lions share of the spoils this year, although the Bulls could keep them honest.

Is this another 1978, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2011 and 2013?

207

The situation with Red Bull is quite dangerous for Mercedes, no question it's hard to see anyone other than Hamilton or Rosberg winning the drivers title (Hamilton much more likely than Rosberg) However the Red Bull is a fantastic car and from sector times appears to be the best in high speed corners.

If Renault can maximise the power from their units soon enough, I think we will see Red Bull catch and pass Mercedes. Furthermore if the improved car moves even slightly in Sebastian Vettels favour in terms of set up, he will be awfully strong and following his recent results against Ricciardio, someone with a point to prove.

I also think Alonso, following yesterday's drive cannot be discounted. Once again if Ferrari makes a step forward it will be bad news for Mercedes.

Big question really is, does Mercedes have the capability and form to dig deep and reinvent itself from now to November, if required ?

According to Niki Laudas recent remarks, about how important the next race in Barcelona will be for them, he at least appears to have some doubts, especially about the effect of an improved Red Bull. I think its also fair to say that Hamilton doesn't have great form in this area either and just how well he would cope mentally, is in my view an open point.

208

"no question it’s hard to see anyone other than Hamilton or Rosberg winning the drivers title"

"If Renault can maximise the power from their units soon enough, I think we will see Red Bull catch and pass Mercedes"

Talk about self-contradictory...

209

Ahh! Leah, you've been reading too much scripted nonsense.

210

I think your point of view is one of someone against Mercedes winning the wdc and wcc. You are clearly looking for hope in your dire anti-merc situation, hoping that other teams catch them. The fact of the matter is that merc won't be standing still either, they will continue to develop ther PU and their aero. Its so refreshing to see someone on the comments section twist the words of someone in f1, Niki lauda was clearly referring to the major upgrades coming for merc in Barcelona, as referred to by many people in merc that have been interviewed (aero upgrades)

211

You really can't say any team is 'close to the maximum' in the first year of the new format.

F1 history proves that development has been constant. Cars last year were so far ahead of that they were five years previously. Your article itself demonstrates the point by quoting the Red Bull saga. One year they were dominant, the next year they were not until half way through the season when development of a very mature format made them dominant again.

212

Mercedes will win both the drivers and constructors championships. I also think they could win every single race this season.

While it may be true that Renault and Ferrari can get more out of their engine, I feel Mercedes aren't always showing their superiority, so they may have even more up their sleeve.

Adding to this, the Mercedes team have built a great car to complement the engine/powerunit, thus gaining better efficiency in terms of aero, thus they can run more downforce at certain places, and still get away with it.

The other teams have not done that, and not many teams, if any, will be wanting to build a B-spec car to suit the engine/powerunit that they currently have for the rest of this season.

So Mercedes have built a package which is totally dominant, yet I feel still has more up its sleeve.

213
David in Sydney

Did people complain so much in McLaren's and Williams' years of domination?

214

that's right. But i think if it was ROS who was dominating, the british press ain't gonna receive it so well either. They have an (understendable) bias to their own (i'm from Argentina, btw)

215

No, they didn't, maybe because senna and prost (more senna than prost) were more likeable i guess

216

That alone explains why Vettel's dominance was not well received while Mercedes' / Hamilton's is quite the opposite to Vettel's.

217

Other than Bahrain and China with Rosberg before he passed Alonso, i doubt if we have actually seen the true potential of that merc.... I have a feeling that car is way faster. They are all aiming at 2 seconds a lap race pace, when it could actually be 3+. Hamilton was faster in China saving fuel and tyres, Who is to say Mercedes is near maximum, who is to say they wont be improving their 'safety and reliability'.

Good luck to everyone

218

The Mercedes Team have truly put together a dynamite package. The other Mercedes powered teams can't get close and we have seen Red Bull and Ferrari make a step closer over the weekend. I do feel it will be extremely difficult for anyone to catch Mercedes and their driver pairing. It just seems like everyone is miles behind in understanding the new technology and maximizing results. The other team will undoubtedly close the gap, but to catch and surpass Mercedes seems unlikely.

219
Alexander Supertramp

Three weeks is a lot of time and I agree with James, Mercedes are closer to their optimum so they will have to do more to find performance. It's the same with everything, whether it's F1 performance or losing weight. Who has a harder time losing 25 kg, a person weighing 70 kg or a person weighing 175kg? The development strides of other teams should be bigger than those of Mercedes. Also, Barcelona is less power dependent in comparison to Mal/Bah/China so that automatically decreases the gap. RB will use the 3 weeks wisely and they'll be a lot closer in Barcelona and Monaco. That buys them - and other teams as well- 5 weeks to develop the car while having the luxury of being closer to Mercedes just by driving Barcelona and Monaco.

220
racing_dynamics

Supertramp is The Biggest Losers! but he's much greater than Einstein comparing machines with humans..

221

@Alexander Supertramp

That's assuming they all have the same engine design. They don't.

222
kenneth chapman

@ alex super....you can't possibly know that mercedes do not have as much development potential as any of the other teams unless you work in the inner sanctums of the team and are privy to the finer details.

you may assume that is the case which is quite different.

223

i guess Fangio said one time: You got to be as slow as you can, but being faster than the guy behind. If Mercedes have a 3s plus per lap advantage, why bother? win it by 1,5s a lap, and when they get you, you really push, and then you still got 1,5s advantage left

224
kenneth chapman

@ mathias...it was jack brabham who said that he aimed to win all his races at the slowest possible speed. that was the engineer in him doing the talking.

225

Its glaringly obvious now that the problem and poison pill at Mclaren is Button.This is the 3rd yr now that Mclaren has started with an ok or good car and once Button starts fiddling with the car it plateaux then goes backwards.

There was a great article by thejudge ,one of the most credible and recognise bloggers on F1.he noted that in 2012 Mclaren gave Button everything he needed to take his preferred development path.

Within a month Button was lost on setup and was qualifing out of the top 10.In the mean time Lewis was taking poles and winning races.

lewis left after 3rs of Witmarsh destroying his races to ensure Buttons came on top."And yes thats why he witmarsh was fired. he promise the board that Button was as good as Lewis,and once Lewis left the team sank and everyone started talking about how Lewis was sabotage to make Button look good.

Back on topic,last year there was the excuse of front pull rod or new enovation,so what the excuse this year when they started development early and on top of that they have the best power unit.

Apart from the fluky result at Melbourne where both Lewis and Vettel retired,Mclaren are in the same relative position they were last year, and where Button was in 2012.

we have the statistical evidence,but when are the media going tell us about it

Well atleast Ron has recognized that and has suggested that Button could be out next year

Mclaren has also recognized Button limitation and allowing Kevin to do his own setup.we know something is going on because Button cited that both cars on different setup were slow.

The other big problem for Mclaren is that they are pretending that they can just go pickup the next Lewis...and so far it aint Perez or Magnusen.

226

Er just have to point out your logic flaw then - if McLaren have recognised Jensons utter uselessness at set up and Kevin is doing his own set up (actually best point out that drivers don't do set up in F1 - they offer some feedback but they have a team of actual qualified engineers who's only job is to devise set ups) then how come Jenson is leading Kevin? How come Jenson outperformed Kevin at every practice, qualifying and race stat at Bahrain where Kevin at least had hundreds of miles testing clocked up?

I really don't understand this need to blame the entire McLaren problem on Button. It just goes in circles - Lewis Hamilton is a faster driver than Jenson (nobody disagrees even Button!) but he is not a miracle set up engineer. If he was why didn't he comprehensively destroy Button every season? Because it doesn't work that way and hasn't at least from the days of unlimited testing. You do realise the teams listen more to the development and simulator drivers than their race drivers these days on long term set up development?

Listen to Jock, Lewis' engineer who said after China, 'Lewis was screaming blue murder at us in practice about how bad the set up was and we accepted it, we went away and came up with something we thought would help him and he has thanked us after the race.' Lewis didn't sit in the garage developing a set up - he just said 'this isn't working for me - fix it' and they did.

Lotus are having a terrible time of it - so is that down to the uselessness of Kimi in previous years or should we blame Pastor? Or maybe, just maybe, it's down to a lack of resources, engineers rushing into flaws and getting themselves in a tough path and the lack of leadership to back track and look at everything again and hire new people to replace the old.

The only recurring feature of F1 is the delusion of ranting fans who blame/praise everything to one driver and have to attack anyone who may have competed with their idols - maybe just accept that Button didn't sabotage Lewis. Maybe just accept that on his day Button can beat Lewis on his better days but he's just not quite as talented in qualifying or driving around flaws. Maybe accept that Lewis lost races through team errors and occasionally his own brain fades. Maybe accept that Lewis doesn't know any more or less about setting cars up than any other driver and he's just lucky that his talent has finally again sat him in a car with the team, the money and the direction to win a championship. Just like it did at McLaren. Maybe you can take a step back then and stop reading nonsense about secret conspiracies against drivers who are paid millions to fail. Maybe you might even enjoy F1 when you realise it isn't Game of Thrones.

227

Well said.

Still, a driver's adaptability can make a huge difference.

228

Yes I agree - Alonso for instance can often change his style which helps with cars that aren't perfectly to his liking. Lewis has shown he can drive round flaws and doesn't need a car in it's 'ideal' state to succeed. It's a great skillset to have, but it's not the sole aspect of a champion - Kimi and Button both need a car that is closer to their 'ideal' or they really lose pace. I think we're also seeing that Vettel had some unique ability with the counter-intuitive blown diffuser driving style...looking at the start of 2012 and this year it's clear he is insanely quick but also falls foul of cars that don't give him the exact 'feel' he suits.

But no driver has every skillset. And I do think people get overexcited about one particular skill and declare it the ONLY sign of a great driver. If we were looking at the single most raciest, overtaking driver on the track this year we'd have to hand the trophy to Kobi! He'll take any chance to overtake - but that doesn't make him Senna (and let's not forget Senna was comprehensively beaten many times in his career - my point is there is no perfect driver and blaming McLaren's woes on their highest scoring driver for the past few years is just getting weird about it.

229

Lat year, it also turned out that the McLaren was slow due to poor setup.

The car only improved when Button said they had tried what he called "a radical setup."

230

Button's results against his various team-mates do not support your exaggerated Eureka theory. There are a lot of reasons McLaren are a midfield team and I am pretty sure neither Hamilton, Alonso nor Vettel - the current gold standard drivers - would agree with you that he's done anything to drag the team down. If he were really such a disaster he would not have held his own against Hamilton and Perez.

231

He did not hold his own against Ham, only a person who only checked the final results of 2012 results can come to that conclusion. For some freakish reason, which I hope was not deliberate sabotage, Lewis pit stops were ruined and his car broke down way more than normal. And don't you dare claim that Ham was too aggressive for his car. For years they worked with him, the knew his driving style. No engineer can design a car that is weaker than its user. In merc, his car has the same chance of breaking as much as Ros's

If you refuse to acknowledge this, then there's no hope for you.

232

I would never claim such a thing! I know and admire Lewis Hamilton's driving style, which is full of intelligence despite some rather suspect claims to the contrary which I still hear suggested now and then. Lewis is clearly a faster and better driver than Button and I said nothing against him. Only that Button held his own, not that he matched him. But Lewis did not crush Button and I do not believe Button has ever been an embarrassment to any team. Respect where it is due - all the current F1 drivers deserve it. The field is very talented, so Button's survival cannot possibly be due to anything other than his talent. It's McLaren's designers who are not performing.

233
David in Sydney

You don't think it's the team, instead of one guy, responsible for developing the car?

234

I think Macca's problems are more profound than just Jenson.

The cars of 2009, 2011 to an extent, and 2013 were all second rate at best. At no point have McLaren ever produced a car and operational efficiency to challenge the might of Red Bull, and now this year at Merc.

I have to had put my finger on Woking's problems, it would be a lack of vision, direction and clarity of thought in their technical department. The same could be said of Ferrari really.

Perhaps Macca have been sidetracked by their road car ventures? Seem a bit of a co-incidence that since 2009 when they went into production cars they have been technically in a decline.

Just an opinion!

235

Yes and noticed the odd years?

From an article I read years ago about McLaren, it says that McLaren ran two development teams. One team work on the current car, while the other team work on next year's car. When next year comes, that come would become the current development team.

Not sure if that's still the case today, but if so that might explain why 2009; '11; '13 crappy cars were developed. It seems like they cannot continue directly from the previous year's know-how and stuff learnt about the cars.

236

In my opinion, 2009 was the beginning of McLaren's problems, which started with their leadership. That year, Ron Dennis stepped down as the team boss (some would say that he was forced to quit in order to spare the team from further persecution by Max Mosely) and was replaced by Martin Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh's most significant accomplishment that year wasn't leading his team to championship glory. No. Rather, it was to persuade Mercedes to provide engines to Brawn GP, in the wake of Honda pulling out from F1. The result was that Brawn GP won the championsh1p, and Mercedes decided to buy Brawn GP the following year. Consequently, McLaren lost their status as the Mercedes "factory" team. The loss of funding from Mercedes hurt, and now McLaren were being outspent significantly by both Ferrari and Red Bull.

A lot can be said of Martin Whitmarsh's qualities a a leader, but 2 things in particular stand out to me.

The first is that he served as chairman of FOTA, replacing Luca di Montezemolo, from 2010 until it folded. Unlike LdM, Whitmarsh was an acting team principal with day-to-day responsibility for running an F1 team. In a way, it's admirable that he should want to contribute to the common good of F1 (and his altruism towards Brawn GP is a good example of this), but conversely, why should a man in his position be interested in anything other than the single-minded pursuit of making his own team win world championships?

The second thing that stands out to me about Whitmarsh is how his team handled the 2012 championship. That year, they had (at times) the quickest car (usually in the hands of Lewis Hamilton), yet the team managed to bungle away 100+ points during the year through operational errors and mechanical failures. Then there was a 5 race period between Spain and the British GP when Jenson was struggling with the same car that Hamilton was able to make fly. What did they team do? Did they use Hamilton as a benchmark to prove to themselves that they were on the right development path, or did they waste time and dilute their engineering resources by following a separate development patch to suit Jenson? They chose the latter. One can argue that those were the decisions of the engineering team, but the buck has to stop somewhere, and the team boss must accept ultimate accountability.

These 2 examples paint a picture of a leader who is more concerned about pleasing the masses and pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number, rather than one who is ruthlessly results-oriented, a la Horner, Dennis, or dare I say, even Briatore...

When a leader cannot inspire his team's confidence, then it's inevitable that talent will leave: Pat Fry quit in 2010, Lewis in 2012, Paddy Lowe in 2013.

As a McLaren fan since the days of Lauda and Prost, I hope that the second arrival of Ron Dennis is not too late to change things around.

237

What a superb post!

And what's more, you're spot on.

Is it also a coincidence that Macca are the only English/British F1 team not based in the "Motorsport Valley" of Oxon/Bucks/Northhampts area? I say that because if a personnel moves from, say, Mercedes to Red Bull, they don't have the inconvenience of moving house as Milton Keynes and Brackley are in the similar commuting zone, where as presumably most McLaren personnel have to be based around Surrey/Hants area - ie outside of the motorsport valley heartlands?

My main issue of Macca would be that they seem to have an edge of paranoia and OCD about them - at least at the top level - that has, as well as poor designs and operational blunders, impinged on their ability to consistently deliver at the top level.

238

+1 I couldn't have put it any better! Well read!

239

"Button cited that both cars on different setup were slow"

Very sad to see how clueless this team has become.

240

thanks ...I just love fairy stories !

241

+1 Spot on

242

As much as Id like to say its too late for anyone to catch Mercedes- everyone needs to take a step back and see just how far Red Bull have come in just 5 weeks- its quite staggering actually, & even Ferrari made a reasonable gain at China.

Theres no way on earth this is over. However one more dominating weekend and it will be close to over. With Barcelona 3 weeks away that gives the teams some time to bring some more Bahrain tested performance to the cars. im sure Mercedes AMG wont sit around waiting for others to catch up. But what had been proven beyond doubt over the last 5 years is that Red Bull are the masters of in season development

243

True, Red Bull have always developed through the season and finished strongly, however, they've always been there or thereabouts for the last 5 seasons, winning races at the start of the season from 2009-2013; this year they're struggling to even get podiums. Also from 2009-13 the main differentiator between the cars was the aerodynamics, and Red Bull had the almost-unquestionably greatest F1 aerodynamicist on their payroll. 2014 is much more heavily based about the engine and power unit, and there's not a lot Mr Newey can do about that.

244
kenneth chapman

@ elie......i admire your enthusiasm but lets just recap a little. broadly speaking mercedes are around 2.0 secs a lap ahead. if red bull are to catch up and lead then they need to make up in excess of the current deficit.

do you have any idea what a challenge that really is. development usually is limited to tenths at a time. even with their reputed development record that is one hell of an ask...at any time let alone on a PU which is problematic.

you say that there is no way this is over yet you say that one more weekend of domination will bring it close to being over?

barcelona is only the fifth race out of nineteen yet i cannot see how red bull or any other team are likely to stop the mercedes juggernaut. i hope that i am wrong because if this domination continues it will be a large dose of deja vu for a lot of people.

245

@Kenneth - Well, after China any prudent follower would know the gap Mercedes enjoys maybe little more than a second - Renault "reliability fixes " have given Red Bull about 4/10. I think some other gains have given them a few more. Noone is doubting the sclae of the development curve required by anyone to make up 1 sec. However this formula is very immature and most engineers will tell you there is probably 2 + more sec in this years cars alone and who ever can find those first will be singing to the chequered flag..this is not 2013 where the cars and rules were very similar for 7 years.

Like Ive said before - I dont think Mercedes will sit still through all this and the likelihood is they will win confortably but others have alot more to improve in their car and thats very evident on the onboards or race coverage..Just saying its not a forgone conclusion at this stage given what they have left to improve.

246

@racing_dynamics- a replica Constructors trophy when Mercedes wins the title . : )

247
racing_dynamics

elie.. how much did F1A marketing department pay you to come out with such statement?

248

Further- fuel sensor issue showed me that many people here are not very "prudent"

249

@Kenneth- By Singapore Both Red Bulls will be as quick as the Mercedes - whats the bet?

What I said was Renault have found 4/10 in the PU For Red Bull and Red Bull themselves have found a few tenths more themselves.

Ferrari have found something in the fuel mix at China and so too will Red bull- Marko has already hinted at some gains to come from Renault.Renault and Red Bull will find gains in integration of power and delivery/ driveavility - no one should under estimate what they did by summer break last year- and we all know Renault has always been down in horsepower- so how else did Red Bull find about 1+sec between Hungary / Singapore 2013!. I also think there is quote some gains in the tyres to be sorted by all teams..

Im no fan of Red Bull and their methods - but they have proven more than once they can do it. It will probably be too late this year, but they will be competitive and I wont rule them out of winning at least a few races. I think they are special for Monaco and Hungary already - their chassis is a still a cut above the rest..

250
kenneth chapman

@elie.... i do consider myself to be a prudent follower however i question your 'only' one sec or maybe a tad more benefit held by mercedes.

china is not a good example. hamilton was cruising and his lap times were not put under pressure. i would say that perhaps bahrein was a better example as there they were tested. the variance there was closer to 2.0/2.5 secs. if as you say red bull may have clawed back around four tenths then that still leaves a possible two sec advantage to mercedes.

of course improvements will occur to the PU's over time but i have yet to read any engineers reports that state that 2.0 secs could be claimed. i'm not saying it won't happen but i will await the outcome rather than try and predict it.

there is also no evidence to conclude that the others, non mercedes, have a lot more to provide. it may well be that mercedes also have a lot more to come as well. at this stage no one apart from the mercedes engineers would know that detail.

251

I don't think Maranello have come that far, once again, Fernando proved that he is one of the 2 best drivers on the grid. Kimi probably better represented the true Ferrari pace.

252

@Philip- This comment is totally illogical. By your reasoning Rosberg showed the true pace of the Mercedes, Perez- the Force India, Vettel the Red Bull, etc.. Quite simply Fernando did a far better job in understanding and driving the car nearer to its potential & Raikkonen did not !- plain and simple.

Heaven help us there are still Alonso fans that believe in the 110% nonsense. Do you believe in the tooth fairy also.

253

If by "Alonso fan" you mean someone who can appreciate a driver's talents irrespective of their personal views then guilty as charged. Certain drivers can take a mediocre car and through skillful management and mitigation of the weaknesses, gain a better result than a team mate could in the same package. I count Alonso in that group.

The tooth fairy was always kind to me too.

254
kenneth chapman

@ philip......wrong, alonso better represented the true ferrari pace otherwise he couldn't have finished where he did. raikonnen finished where raikonnen finished either because his car was not able to give him more or else he didn't know how to extract the maximum from performance from it.

this persistent and constantly circulated myth about alonso 'outperforming the car' is really just a load of garbage. each individual car has a performance limit which is not able to be surpassed owing to the laws of physics. those laws are in a relative flux given a myriad of other forces such as wet/dry/temperature etc etc. to persist with these attributions to alonso has no basis in the facts as i understand or conversely misunderstand them.

255

The track played into Ferrari's hands in China. They probbaly will be reasonable in Barcalona, but like last year, way off the pace in Monaco.

256

Mercedes will be caught and very soon too, and that is a statement by Aldo Costa some three weeks back.

At the moment Mercedes have superiority in ERS development over Ferrari and Renault,its only a question of time before a new software is developed.

One must pop the question,does McLaren recieve a full PU from Merc? or is Mercedes reluctant to do,in the view that Honda may get the hands on on the things that its not on the menu,Force India recieve a total package including the gear box,a hard look will indicate not on the same pitch,and the same apply to Williams?.

257

The customers get the same package but they didn't get the full details until the day they signed the contracts - and this just happened to be long after the cars main chassis points were laid down and development underway. There's just no way to integrate the chassis to the PU unique features unless you are a works team.

But yes Mercedes are greatly unhappy about Honda getting data from their PU. The suggestion is that McLaren are building and developing their own ERS anyway which will integrate with the Honda systems. There's not much Mercedes can do to stop McLaren data mining everything. They could limit the support given in optimisation issues etc I suppose but as others have said unless McLaren looked like a championship threat why would they as it's more data coming in for them to relay back.

258

It would be a disadvantage to Merc to not give all their customer teams the same PU as they have - they can learn a lot more from four teams' data than just their own.

259

It's also the F1 journalists who are having to desperately build up interest in this year's WC. Diminished readership is the true horror, and talented typers will tip the topics that titillate us typhoids.

260

Interest here is at record levels and has been since testing began with these cars - go figure!

261

Really this years championship has been exciting for me.

Been loving this season so far. Every week theres been some really entertaining media storie's and races. Certainly 1 of the best championships i've seen in recent memory.

Have to say thanks to Mercedes for letting thier drivers race fairly. My interest wouldnt be so high if they were playing the favourite driver game.

Every week i have questions that need answered like whats going on at Mclaren and Ferrari? The past few seasons I Didnt even care to bother.

I've also noticed on the TV feed that people have been cheering in the grandstands during races, fights for position on the track between team mates.

Certainly sounds like people at the circuits have been enjoying the racing too.

262

Interest here probably has more to do with Lewis's nationality that anything else and not represent global interest which will for sure go down if domination continues.

263

We are the typhoids. I won't watch the races, but find the news and politics irresistible.

264

I suspect the politics of improving engines is as murky as most thing in F1.

James - Given how many cars finished on Sunday surely none of the engine manufactures can be allowed to change anything on the grounds of reliability from this point on?

265

See, the engine manufactures define reliability differently. When they say "We have a reliability problem", they're not saying "our engines are failing"... what they really mean is "we're not reliably winning races".

266

Lol good one...

267

Of course! Thera are always "issues"

268

Wouldn't that be a flaw then? Anyone can claim they have issues without anything blowing up or getting destroyed, ask FIA for permission, and voila extra 20hp gained.

269

I think double points at the last race will make no difference to the WCC they will have it wrapped up with 3/4 races left. The WDC is a different matter, I can see Alonso/Vettel wining and jumping up the table to get second or third

270

Somebody further up figured out if Hamilton keeps winning 13 races and that Rosberg wins only 5 (or something like that), Rosberg would still bag the WDC due to the final race double points.

271

I had great hope for Williams. One thing I have noticed with Massa he starts a race very strongly but fades as the race goes on.

This team brings the emotions out whenever they promise so much and then fail.

272

The team certainly try their very best in bringing out the emotions, rage, anger, etc..

"Bottas is faster than you".

273
David in Sydney

It just annoys me to see a public company with a second generation team principal enjoying her jet set lifestyle what is this, a monarchy?) perform so badly after promising so much... but then, this is Williams.

Has always been so.

274

This will likely be the most dominant car in F1 history.

Mercedes have too great an engine advantage. While Renault and Ferrari can make modifications in terms of "reliability", so can Mercedes.

Having to justify an improvement in terms of "reliability" means slow, incremental improvements.

Improving engine performance isn't like adding a piece of revolutionary kit such as the F-duct or blown diffuser.

Neither Hamilton and Rosberg needed to push on Sunday. Hamilton built a huge lead while using the least amount of fuel.

The Mercedes was 2.5 seconds a lap quicker than the field when they were pushing as hard as the cars behind them in the final 10 laps. No-one got within 1.7 seconds of them.

It's ironic that Hamilto, who has constantly diminished Vettel's achievements over the years by alluding to this supposed huge car advantage (Vettel only ever had a dominant car in 2011 and the second half of 2013), yet here's Hamilton being almost gifted a championship in what will likely be the most dominant car of all time.

275

It's not ironic. Hamilton has outdriven his cars at times, putting up classy drives and overtakes, whereas Vettel has not yet proven that nor his racecraft so far.

276

I agree, Hamilton will never be in the same class as Vettel and Schumacher until he has a number two driver to bully and diminish.

277

Of course Hamilton will never be in the same LOWER class as Vettel and MSc as he took the fight to Alonso in his first year and still came out on top!

278

I'd love to see the quotes.

Hamilton has said "The Red Bulls are uncatchable" (and this year, Vettel has said "The Mercedes are out of reach"), and Hamilton said that the RB9 was able to put down full throttle in a way he hadn't been able to do since 2008 when he had traction control.

Generally, Hamilton has been kinder to Vettel than other drivers, or even Vettel's non-fans (including me).

Vettel has also had, and this is usually overlooked, a dominant *team*-- As annoying as Christian Horner is, I can't fault the Red Bull F1 team. They're aggressive, take every advantage they can get, and any time they take to the track, they're trying to win.

Contrast that with McLaren, who for 2011, 2012, and 2013, seemed merely interested in scoring points, rather than trying to win (racing to win means taking chances-- racing to score points means taking as few chances as possible, and McLaren under Whitmarsh wasn't in the habit of taking chances).

Of course, 4 races in, and Hamilton is second in the championship, which isn't exactly my idea of a "gift" either.

279

The Red Bull was only ever a dominant car in 2011 and the second half of 2013.

The McLaren in 2012 was the fastest car out there? What were you watching???

2013 McLaren wasn't really competitive, and this was compounded by having a weak driver line up.

2011 Red Bull was the class of the field.

280

I know you said fastest, and at times it was. But there were race weekends where it was nowhere (Silverstone, Valencia, Bahrain), and those are the weekends were both cars were off the pace. If we include the weekends where Button was off the pace, then the list grows.

They were quick for the first 3 races, then the FIA told McLarenn they had to change their floor. That's when Button's problems started, and he went into a tailspin. His results in the next six races were 18th, 9th, 16th, 16th, 8th, 10th. That's 30% of the season.

Hamilton was able to mask the car's deficiencies and drive around the problems, although his results weren't all that great either (8th, 8th, 5th, 1st, 19th, 8th).

At least you agree now that fast doesn't equal best. Reliability is a key ingredient in judging whether a car is best or not.

Geezus, you might as well tell Mother Theresa that you're glad she's getting with the program and helping out the lepers. I've been harping on about this for ages. The Ferrari was reliable, yes, but no car would've survived Grosjean's smash-up. The RB8 had the best relative pace through the season ... if they weren't fastest at a track, they were usually 2nd fastest. Not many tracks where they were 3rd or worse in terms of pace. CHN, GER, HUN, ITA, BRA. Even there, many times they were a close-running 3rd, not miles off.

281

I didn't say it was best, I said it was fastest. McLaren shot themselves in the foot over and over.

At least you agree now that fast doesn't equal best. Reliability is a key ingredient in judging whether a car is best or not.

Alonso may not have had the raw pace of the McLaren (neither did Red Bull), but he had by far the most reliable car.

282

The 2012 McLaren was not the best car. AT TIMES it was the fastest, but usually also unreliable at the same time. Other times it was horrid. After Newey brought the DDRS, the RB8 was a beast ...you don't lead 205 consecutive laps in a car that's not the fastest (SIN12-IND12)!!

The RB8 was clearly the best car to be in over the entirety of the 2012 season. To argue otherwise is to be obtuse.

284

Sorry to inform you HAM and VET are not in the same league and I'm not the fan of either of them. Oh yes and VET had dominant car for 4 seasons but also had reliability issues and himself made a lot of mistakes so didn't use it to it's full potential for that 4 years.

285

Let's hope so!

286
David in Sydney

I hope they invite Brawn to celebrate during the GP weekend in which they take their Championship.

287

Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda have been at Mercedes since early last year.

Brawn didn't have a lot to do with this creation. They made him increasingly irrelevant in the team so that Brawn would have no choice but to leave.

288

This is crazy talk. Brawn's fingerprints are all over the W05. Seeing as they started on this car a long, long time ago, it's silly to say that this is mostly Lauda/Wolff's doing, instead of Brawn's.

289

Brawn certainly put in place the infrastructure and appointed Geoff Willis and his crew to focus on 2014 chassis/engine integration for two years before car was launched.

He worked closely with the Merc engine people in Brixworth, but clearly they deserve the credit for the resulting Power Unit.

290

I don't see why Renault for certain and maybe Ferrari too cannot say to the FIA, we have been losing PUs due to MGU-H overheating issues and for reasons of RELIABILITY we wish to use this re-designed MGU-H which just happens to bear some superficial resemblance to the Mercedes MGU-H. Without this change the RELIABILTY issues will see our teams taking engine penalties at the end of the season. How could the FIA turn them down? They would still be playing catch up but they would then have a chance of getting near parity by the end of the season.

291

I had not been aware of the veto but I still think Renault may as well get the lawyers on the case and give it a go. After all they will pretty much have the revised parts that they will need next season at least on the drawing board by now if not yet running on the dyno. If Mercedes win all the races for the first half of the season the FIA will be under pressure to do something and a compromise could be reached. I believe that rules have changed mid season in the past. Hats off to Mercedes for doing a stellar job though!

292

The FIA are not as stupid as they seem, not only that but Mercedes would be all up on arms. And don't forget that Mercedes are also supplying 2 of the most powerful teams in the sport, Williams F1 and McLaren, good allies to have.

293

I wouldn't say McLaren and Williams F1 are two of the most power teams in the sport (what "power" do they have?), but they certainly share a common rival in Ferrari.

294

In that scenario, I would expect Mercedes to block it. I think that every requested change to the PUs has to be peer-reviewed by ALL engine manufacturers as well as the FIA. Do you really think Mercedes are going to allow them to do that? They won't be able to block it for next years PUs, but this year I think they can.

295

"Negative Nico, negative. Lewis's pace is what we are asking him to do. He can go a lot faster as well" Ross Brawn.

He is truly missed! Where is he now? James, could you be able to find and ask Ross how he feels about the success of Mercedes?

296
David in Sydney

Benetton. Ferrari. Brawn (Honda). Mercedes.

I know who'd I'd be begging to run my team (and it isn't my daughter or a car salesman).

297

Oh snap! lol

298

The facts are that Brawn's Benetton was never the fastest car, the Brawn Ferrari was only ever the fastest car in 2001, 2002 and 2004, and the Brawn GP car was only fast because Brawn took a huge gamble on the interpretation of the rules.

299

Uh, it means nothing? MSC led 133 of the 154 laps of the first two races, over 86%. That's a bigger percentage than Hamilton has currently, in the likely most dominant F1 car ever.

MSC outdrove Senna in the first race? Wonder how he managed that eh?

I've watched F1 since 1983, and I will of course deny that the Williams was the best car in both 1994 and 1995! The B194, or at least the B194 w/option-13, was a great car. Schumacher won 9 of the 14 races he contested in that car (DSQ'd from one). Sorry, but no driver wins 9 of 14 w/o the car playing a major part. The B194 was Autosport's Race Car of the Year in 1994.

Meanwhile for Williams, 1994-95 were nothing like the two years prior ('92-93) or the two years after ('96-97). There's a reason why they introduced B-spec cars in both 1994 and 1995, and not in the other years. 1994 they took too long to sort the car out, after the ban on active suspension and traction control. In 1995 they had a better car than 1994, but still the B195 was better on race pace. Benetton of course won the WCC in 1995.

300

Going by laps led in the first four races of 1994 means nothing since Senna died on the 7th lap of the third race of that season.

Schumacher out-drove Senna in the first race, then Senna crashed out of the second race. The Williams was fundamentally the quicker car.

Anyone who follows/followed F1 at that time will not deny that the Williams was the best car in 94 and 95.

You can't just make stuff up to suit your argument.

301

The 1994 Benetton was fast right out of the gate (e.g. laps led thru the first 4 GPs: MSC 258, SEN 26, HAK 3, BER 3), whereas the Williams that year took awhile to get in shape. By the time it was, it needed to be head and shoulders better to catch up, and it wasn't. Senna likely would've beaten Schumi with it, but Hill wasn't up to it. This was with Schumacher missing 4 race results b/c of disqualification/race bans.

Just like with the 2012 McLaren, it seems you've taken the best period for each car, and extrapolated it over the entire season. Doesn't work like that. The 1994 Benetton (and the 1995 Benetton too) was the best car to be in for the season, from start to finish.