Mercedes press home their advantage – will they be caught before it’s too late?
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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I want to comment on one part of the article. Here’s the quote: “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.”

Here is my question: Was this a poor move on RBR’s part? Last year was the end of an era in F1. Now we have this homologation for what, 5 years? Mercedes look like the cat who ate the canary because they scrapped the program relatively early last year.

Regarding what Mercedes have accomplished thus far, they certainly have made all the right moves of late regarding personnel. For about two years they have been gathering talent and changing the way F1 is run. I remember when Toto Wolff said the position of a team principle is a thing of the past. At the time my jaw dropped at the blaspheme that fell from his lips. But now, I’m not so sure…Ferrari’s new appointment looks an awful lot like a move toward what Mercedes has already done. And in this new F1, the garage and pits seem to be equal to the drivers in extracting the real-time performance out of the car as the race unfolds corner by corner, lap by lap. It’s no longer 80-20 driver to pits. It’s now more like 50-50. So having the right people on the pit wall is more paramount to success this year than it has been in previous years.

I would be remiss if I did not say I feel it is an absolute shame Ross Brawn is not there to share in all this success: this is a racing team who’s very existence is solely because of him.


“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.”

Massive assumption.


Yes, I have to agree. Maybe not with such a bold statement, as the folks at JA on F1 have forgotten more about F1 than I will ever know, but I think you are right. All the big F1 teams with the budget, resources and personnel have the ability to greatly develop the car over the course of the year. And Mercedes is no different. Mercedes will end up much quicker at Abu Dhabi than they were in Melbourne. The problems the other teams face is they have to get EVEN with Mercedes before they can even think about being quicker. And all they while, Mercedes can rack up 1-2’s.


Additionally, I’m not so sure Mercedes is actually using their maximum. Look at the fuel figures during the races. In China, Lewis was ALWAYS in the lead in terms of fuel usage. Sometimes significantly. I think at one point as much as 4kg less than the other runners in the top 10. Therefore he was going quicker with a HEAVIER fuel load, and obviously not using his PU anywhere near it’s maximum.

kenneth chapman

a wildly massive assumption.


I just think it would have been better to apply the engine freeze halfway through the season instead of before a wheel has turned at the first race.


Now that’d drive up costs, not what the FIA wanted.


Homologation. No one ever claimed it made any sense!



How will Renault be faster in the straights in AbuDhabi if performance related development is freezed?

Also is it really true that Renault lacks power? How come the Lotus and Torro Rosso are fast in the straights then?


Hello James! I’m very sorry for the off topic question, but I need your help. I would like to go to the Austria GP (but I don’t have the tickets), so I’m wandering if you know can the tickets for general admission be bought right at the track (like for Monza, they always have them), or it’s not the case for Austria? Thank you!


I would expect so.

You can buy them from I believe


Its good to see different faces on the podium, but I dare say MB dominating the season wont feel much different to the last 4 RB seasons come November. Hopefully Rosberg can take the fight to Hamilton and make him earn his wins like Bahrain. Watching newly promoted Ricciardo steal Vettel’s show must be a humbling experience for the great champ.


The difference between the Renault & Merc PUs is NOT 22km/hr – that was the difference between the fastest (Mercedes) and slowest (Red Bull) cars.

A fairer comparison would be to take the average of the Merc-powered teams and the average of the Ferrari- and Renault- powered teams. You will see that the difference is less exaggerated.

Red Bull, as ever, choose to run with more downforce than everyone else in order to maximize corner speed.


This talk of F1 being boring is… boring.

I started watching F1 during the Schumacher/Ferrari years. I watched as a cohesive team of talented individuals alternated between crushing mastery of the formula and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. I both loathed and admired their domination and ruthlessness. Schumacher’s dedication, and the team’s work ethic, were inspiring. To me, this is the essence of F1.

We had a few flashes in the pan since then, before Red Bull and Vettel came along.

In all of Red Bull’s dominant period, I could only sit back with a mixture of frustration and admiration at what they and Vettel accomplished. But mostly, admiration. The synergy they achieved was fascinating.

For all this talk of whether Vettel is a great, or what a genius Newey is, the truth is that their success was the result of an incredibly strong, confident team. I applaud each and every one of them for their success. It wasn’t boring, it was beautiful.

Now, it’s Mercedes’ turn at glory. They have out-innovated everyone and deserve the success they are enjoying. They abide by the same rulebook as Ferrari and Red Bull, and they all had same opportunity to develop their respective power unit and chassis concepts. And as a Hamilton fan, I’m lucky enough to cheer at his successes so far this season.

Ferrari (and McLaren) are in disarray and have been for years. Red Bull have the misfortune of suffering from a weak link in the form of their engine supplier. But, it’s up to them to do better.

Some ‘fans’ find F1 boring, I suspect, because a team/driver they like isn’t winning (or because a team/driver they don’t like, is). By all means, cheer your favourite, but also learn to admire the skill, hard work and dedication of all these drivers and their teams.

Other fans don’t like the quieter (yet more powerful and challenging) technologically-fascinating formula. Understand this: without these changes, Renault and Mercedes would have left the sport and Honda wouldn’t even consider re-joining in 2015.

I’d suggest those ‘fans’ don’t know what F1 is about. There have always been periods of dominance spearheaded by wonderful innovation, drastic rule changes, ruthless players – and change. Since started watching nearly 15 years ago, people have been saying that F1 is boring and yet here we are, with more races and teams than ever.


hamilton is about to do something murray walker has never seen in the history of the sport.

only if he will admit to it at the end of this season.


hamilton is about to do something murray walker has never seen in the history of the sport.


‘…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…..’

Err – I think that this was more down to a change in tyre construction after Silverstone which Red Bull appeared to lobby strongly for – coincidentally this new construction suited the RBs perfectly. Some ‘development’!


No its Vettel that does all the work while the rest are just hanging their balls in the pool..


Going back to the double points situation at the final race in abu dhabi in golf and tennis there are what we commonly know as the four majors which for a number of reasons stand out from every other tournament I think it would be good for formula 1 if double points were awarded at the four most favoured gp by drivers and viewing public which are Silverstone,monza,spa,and of course Monaco it would spice things up considerably


Monza, Monaco and Bahrain are the best for me


it’s over. hamilton should win most of the remaining races.

f1 has decided to go down a developmental dead end with these hybrid engines. how can they be called efficient when the cars take all day to fix. i sympathize with the mechanics and technicians. as if the season isn’t long enough without the lengthy repair times.

the engine manufacturers cannot claim that hybrid power is innovative and they cannot claim that it helps with road car develpment. soon 95% of all road cars will be all electric. as f1 racing engines they suck. they’re more like truck engines in that revving them harder doesn’t get you anywhere. the engines cannot be defined as more energy efficient. they are less efficient because the additional battery power is incredibly expensive.

on a horsepower per $1 value of fuel they are less efficient. then there is all the additional weight.

as i’ve mentioned before, the manufacturers are not on a level playing field. mercedes is an industrial behemoth compared to ferrari and renault. of course the benz engine is going to be better. in china the top 10 were separated by over 3 seconds. bit of a joke really. the wec sportscars are closer in quali then f1.

i’m over it. the only interest this year is watching the rookies develop. kyvat is very impressive.


simple answer. no, they will be not.


Having watched F1 for many, many years, including the dominance by Williams and McLaren in the 80’s and 90’s, sadly I think this season is a wrap for Mercedes.

There might be an interesting Hamilton vrs Roseberg battle for the Driver’s title, which I feel Hamilton will win, but at most we might see a few closer battles from the rest of the teams (RB and Ferrari) possibly coming a little closer to Mercedes, but that will be it.

As everyone has pointed out Mercedes absolutely did a fantastic job (and spent a huge amount of money) with both their car and especially their PU. Renault was clearly caught napping and so was Ferrari a little. The clever but obvious “split turbo” design by Mercedes is probably not something that can be engineered in a few months and by that time the lead will well be out of reach.

Mercedes were very clever in concealing this design by presenting “official” pictures of its PU that did not reflect it. They clearly outfoxed the competition! That design (if it can be copied since engine specs are frozen) solves a lot of important limitations inherent with turbos. For starters the pressurized air going into the intercooler is colder (since the intact turbine is farther away from the red hot exhaust turbine) and has much less distance to travel both in and out of the intercooler (thus further reducing lag). Since the intake charge is already cooler than its rival engines, Mercedes probably were able to use a smaller intercooler (also further reducing turbo lag), which probably had the added benefit of being able to design tighter body work which further helps aerodynamic efficiency. The cooler air alone allows for a more dense air to fuel mixture to reach the engine giving just the mechanical side of the engine more power to begin with (not to mention the packaging benefits it provides on the software-electrical side of the PU).

It seems a very obvious solution that both Renault and Ferrari should have thought of and are now at a clear disadvantage with their integrated turbo design. I think Renault and Ferrari know this and unfortunately it will be an up hill battle that will not be won unless a redesign is allowed to happen. Although Ferrari seem to have made some strides while Renault -who recently claimed to be close to maximum PU integration – are clearly way behind and given all the embarrassing problems they suffered during testing and the lack of performance in their PU this has got to be a PR image “nightmare” for them. Rob White (Deputy Managing Director)should really resign or get fired.

Honda still have time to study the design and come up with their solution and have been clever to wait to introduce their engine until next year.

I see the end of a RB Renault partnership at the end of this year and Renault will be left with probably just two teams – Lotus and Caterham -if they continue. Renault F1 had its glory days but all things must come to an end. The French and the French car companies really can’t compete against the all conquering German Juggernauts. No insult intended…


Ferrari actually has a very similar design, except they didn’t split the turbo far enough.

kenneth chapman

just to take up a few points there F1fan. if as you postulate, the red bull/renault relationship ends what are the options for red bull? they will not get the honda as that has already been stated. mercedes will not supply them for obvious reasons. that leaves ferrari and unless there is a miracle in the offing why would anyone want to go down that path?

if all that comes to pass then red bull will have to endure the renault for some time to come. if the dominance of mercedes carries over then red bull will be out in the cold…in a manner of speaking. maybe james can get his crystal ball out and search for an answer.


Asl Infiniti to develop PUs for them. Afterall their logos are placed on the RB’s sidepods.


Infiniti is a Nissan Brand, and Nissan is part of the Renault Group

kenneth chapman

no, i somehow don’t think so. well wide of the mark there.


Good point. But I believe there would be other manufacturers that will be coming back. I have not heard that Honda is exclusive to McLaren, but perhaps you are right. I really don’t think RB will race just the sake of racing they have been too successful in the past to just show up and something will be done to change the PU supplier.


Thanks for clarifying the Honda situation, but if I was Honda, I would rethink that strategy especially if it would mean a Newey penned RB machine.

The way RB are publicly criticizing their current PU, I can’t see the relationship lasting.

Renault needs to come up with the goods for 2015 and beyond or it will lose more teams (McLaren to Honda means one available Mercedes PU for another team next year)… I think this year Renault is too far behind the Mercedes engine without doing a significant redesign. Could they pursue and develop a split turbo design – a la Mercedes given the engine freeze? It seems the best solution out there at the moment.

kenneth chapman

@ F1 fan…..just a few days ago the head of the honda racing org announced that mclaren will be the sole recipient of their engine in 2015 and that supply may be held over into 2016 as well.

it would be very unusual for a team to switch to another, as yet unknown, supplier with only some seven or so months to go in the current season. it simply would not happen.


Nice post. Why does the air going into the turbo need to be colder?


The colder the air going into an engine the more power it will produce because the air is denser and you can pack more air/fuel mixture into the combustion chamber. Ever notice how your engine runs better when the weather is cold compared to very hot days… If you start with colder air going into the turbine you have an advantage throughout the entire pressurized process – If all engine manufactures use the same size intercooler for example, then the one with the lowest initial air temperature going into the cooler will have a lower temperature going out of it – thus producing more power from a denser air/fuel mixture. Plus the proximity of the intact turbine to the intercooler is greatly reduced and is probably shielded from the hot exhaust manifold. If you look at the Renault V6 Turbo youtube design video, you can see just how far air has to travel before it gets to the intercooler (passes right by the hot exhaust manifold (which probably raises the temperature even more). The Renault design shows a real lack of engineering creativity and the results speaks for themselves. As I stated the Renault engineers were caught sleeping or perhaps that 35 hour work week and the 6 week vacations didn’t help.


“The cooler air alone allows for a more dense air to fuel mixture to reach the engine giving just the mechanical side of the engine more power to begin with”

It says so in the text, in plain English, the cooler air is thicker, and more air(oxygen)goes into the cylinders, resulting in a more powerful explosion


Ease up tiges, but thanks, I wasn’t aware that produced a more powerful explosion as you say.




This is not 2009 when the double diffuser of BrawnGp could be copied. From my understanding in Craig Scarborough’s explanation that the Merc PU turbo charger is mounted on the front of the PU which gives them much more power, so teams can’t copy this as it’s a major design change and Merc looks much slimmer and tighter on the rear (top view). Lewis’s tyre management was superb in China and fuel was no issue at all. And they have not even maximized their performance, I daren’t imagine how many more extra seconds they will pull away.

Don’t want to be pessimistic but my gut feelings tells me Merc can only fail through reliability gone wrong which is very unlikely or Lewis and Nico taking each other out also very unlikely, so it will be Lewis’s WDC and Merc WCC.

Only scenario I can see will be Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India and Williams suddenly improve massively and start closing the gap and the fight begins….I sure wish they coulda.

If all stats stay as is from the last four races we have two series running this year as it is already.

Nevermind we can still enjoy the second series eh.

heinzman (fan of: ALO)


Earlier this year, there was mention of a BMW return to F1. Have you heard any more regarding this?

It seems that the turbo-six would suit their business. Would they be under pressure to return from the commercial side given the enormity of Mercedes’ success?


Not heard anything on that.

I suspect not and I don’t think Toyota has any plans in the pipeline



Hope you can give an opinion on this because it has bugged me since Brazil 2012.

I noticed that after Vettel’s first pit stop he came out just behind Alonso and Kvyat in 4th, 5th and 6th I think.

Kvyat was yet to stop but had position on the track and was entitled to race. He immediately pulled wide in turn 1 to let Vettel through. This made me ask a few questions.

Why would he compromise his own race by slowing in this corner when he did not have to?

Would he have done this for any other cars?

Was he advised over the radio that Vettel was coming out of the pits and in effect told to move over?

Does this mean that there are two cars out there that the Red Bulls never have to race?

Does this mean that from a strategy point of view that there is potentially a four car team, and is that legal?


It wouldn’t have been the first time a Toro Rosso had held up a Red Bull (Abu Dhabi 2010 comes to mind), but I think Kvyat was thinking two things:

First – fighting Vettel would just slow them both down.

And second – don’t irk your bosses (as well as your potential potential future team-mate) 😉


Always know who pays your wages at Torro Rosso.

(Clue: He’s an Austria billionaire of Croatian descent, he owns a certain drinks company.)


You miss my point.

He did not have to race Vettel, but by pulling over where he did he would have cost himself about a full second around that long first turn. He did this to save Vettel time.

Your second point basically confirms my opinion that this is a four car team. I.e. the Red Bulls are unlikely to ever have to race a TR.


Whoever decided to R and D the spilt turbo is a genius… I’d love to know more about these people…


The difficult thing is figuring out exactly how fast the Mercedes is.

In 3 of the 4 races this year, Mercedes has had one driver out front gradually drawing away to a 15-20 second win, certainly not giving anywhere close to 100%. The only circuit where we have gotten something of an idea of how big the Mercedes’ advantage could actually be was in Bahrain, when the two drivers pulled out 20+ seconds over the rest of the field in 10 laps while gunning it out for the win. It could be that Bahrain flattered the Mercedes advantage somewhat, but right now, I think we have to say that Mercedes is at the very least a second clear of the field right now on raceday, maybe even more.

This is going to be extremely difficult to draw back. Sure, the development curve is steeper given that we have a brand new set of regulations, but I think this applies to Mercedes as well. For example, their chassis was designed for the nose that was on the car in China, not the one they raced the first three races with. I am sure that they are also identifying ways to improve the car, and they will be gaining time throughout the season.

Most of the deficit is probably due to the layout of the Mercedes power unit, as it allows not only greater efficiency of both fuel and ERS usage, but also major weight distribution benefits for the chassis. The other two manufacturers can’t copy this layout, so that’s an advantage that is basically built in for the rest of the year. The Mercedes customer teams can make changes to take advantage of it, but they clearly have other balance issues keeping them behind. But I also suspect that Mercedes has a better balanced car than the others. Having the extra horsepower doesn’t really help you make tires last longer than anyone else, and Mercedes has also done that better than anyone else so far this season. So it will take really big swings from the others to catch up with this beast.


but according to some “serious experts” here it seems that the silver arrows have already more or less maximised their potential.. so they only way is to go down & being passed by others.


Double points gives us the best possibility of an exciting finish.

Maybe Bernie knew early on how dominant Mercedes would be, so felt something like double points was required to make it more interesting between the Mercedes drivers.

Rosberg just has to avoid trouble and make sure he finishes since he’s almost certainly guaranteed second position every race. He probably only needs to beat Hamilton 1/3 races from now until the final race to be able to snatch the title in the final round.

If Hamilton wins 10/14 and finishes second every other race, and Rosberg wins 4/14 finishing second every other race, Rosberg will only be 38 points behind Hamilton going into the final race.

I think Rosberg is quick enough to get closer to 6/14 race wins, so it’s set up nicely. I mean, there’s always drama with Hamilton’s girlfriend. Maybe they break up and Hamilton gets down on himself. Rosberg will win 9/14 races in that instance.

It’s far from over.


Double points for only some races was, is, and forever will be a stupid idea.

You’ve just detailed a scenario where one driver could win 13 races (joint highest in a season), and the other 6, and the winner of 6 would be champion … and you think that’d be a good outcome for the sport??

It’s clear from what you’ve written that you don’t consider Rosberg as worthy champion material. At least when Rosberg Sr. won, he only won one less race than the winningest drivers (though there were five of them with 2 wins each!).

7x has the DWC won one less race than the driver with the most race wins. 3x have they won two less, and 2x have they won three less. Never has a DWC won four-plus fewer races than the winningest driver(s).


double points will go to 2nd place also 🙂

So if the Hamilton went into the final race just 14 points ahead, he could afford to finish 2nd to Rosberg and still be champion.


I’m talking about if Hamilton has a mechanical breakdown or crashes out.


I’m so pleased for Hamilton. No doubt he has allowed distraction to take his eye from the ball from time to time, and Button certainly capitalised on that on 2011 but the boy is clearly the fastest out there and had been since he arrived in F1. I would say that his melt downs, mistakes, distractions etc have all been due to frustration; frustration at seeing another guy sweep up title after title when really, Lewis felt that he was the man who would rewrite the record books. I don’t care what excuses Fernando had for 2007, Ham gave him a run for his money way more than any true rookie should have done. McLaren let Lewis down time and time again but still, he collected poles and wins. Finally, with the best car at his disposal, he’s showing everyone who’s boss.

C’mon folks, anyone putting up an argument for any other driver needs to get real; Hamilton is the fastest and best racer.


James, off topic

If I understand correctly the Strategy Group includes RBR, MB, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams because of history, WCC, political savvy, being friends with Bernie, etc.

Lotus is there because of its WCC placing last year, then what happens to the Lotus vote if, say, ForceIndia ends up higher in the standings this year?


Simple, they lose it and FI gets onto the F1 Strategy Group!

GIven what Bob Fernley has said about it, will be interesting next year if he’s sitting on it!


More of a reason to cheer for FI


Get the popcorn ready 🙂


Don’t buy it from Silverstone though – In my experience eateries and drinkies cost a fortune during the grand prix weekend in Northamptonshire/Bucks!!!

Mind you when the aroma of a burger or sausages rolls across the Silverstone air……… just have to succumb to the temptation, even if it does cost a fortune.

Montoya enjoyed a few burgers at Silverstone during his F1 career, no doubt about that.


Anything can happen in F1. I’ve seen so much bad luck fall on LH over the years that even during these last 3 races, I’ve worried about pit stops or bad strategy calls derailing his outstanding performances. So far that hasn’t happened and he’s done the business.

You only have to look at Fernando in 2012, who was leading the championship by a wide margin and had 2 DNFs back to back and Vettel overhauled him. While his car was a dog and that’s not the case for LH this year, it still means that it isn’t safe until it’s mathematical.

The W05 may not have any weaknesses right now, think about it, good on tires, best in class in fuel/performance ratio, good on aero, good on traction and devastating in high speed straights. With 2 elite drivers hungry, they can only beat themselves.


I doubt Mercedes has shown is true pace, all they need to do is open a gap and manage it. There’s a very good chance that they have a while nother second on hand.


its all good.. afterall James’s only a human which he is entitled to side his fav team & driver so does everyone here.


We saw their true pace after the safety car in Bahrain, where Hamilton and Rosberg drove away from the rest

The gap was exacerbated by Perez being on old tyres, holding the others up


Perez didn’t hold up Ricciardo, did he? And you lose time when you fight for positions. Besides, Hamilton held up Rosberg who was in the faster tyres. If Lewis was on soft tyres he would have gone quicker


Good point, I forgot about that.

Do you feel there’s no more room for improvement?


That wasn’t their true pace, because both cars are running with engines turned down.

“We can [turn it up] if we need to, but we don’t need to right now. I have no idea [how much], there are so many different engine maps I don’t know which one it is; they just tell me to put it in one. But I’m told there is more…”

– Lewis Hamilton


Strat-6 is what the drivers can control. There are obviously other settings available to the engineers which is why they told Lewis that there is more power than they are using.


They were at full wick when they were battling … strat-6 seems to be their full-on engine map.


Also, they were fighting wheel to wheel with each other.


Mercedes used to struggle with tire wear so much that they mounted infrared cameras on the front wing to analyze tire temperatures. They must have learned something important and developed the W05 with all that data in hand.

Several teams were complaining about front tire graining during the Chinese GP. They should follow Mercedes’ lead and study the problem instead of complaining. I hope Mercedes continue to dominate.


I feel that Renault, despite needing to make some improvements, are taking an unfair amount of blame for a slow – in a straight line – Red Bull.

Their straight line performance has always been poor, because they run high down-force. They were quick in the middle sector in China. I’d be interested to see if they reduced their level of wing whether they would be more of a match for the Mercs on the straights.

Could it be that the Red Bull once again has high drag and Renault aren’t entirely to blame? Horner and Newey are giving their highly successful engine partner some pretty bad press.


It is easy to talk about developing cars to compete on a level plain field but there are so many other variables to consider but the one variable I wish to draw your attention to is this in the four years of vettels domination lewis Hamilton still achieved many many pole laps and race victories in far inferior cars if vettel was fortunate to have a red bull car that was equal to the Mercedes lewis Hamilton would beat him every single race so Mercedes don’t really need to worry about there car been matched vettel cant even get the better of ricciardo and they have the same car


It will be interesting to see how all the various power unit components hold up over the season as the miles rack up. Hamilton’s machinery has had an easy time of it so far coasting to 2 wins and missing a whole race. May pay dividends later in the year.


Merc’s and Ferrari’s noses looked similar. Ferrari was uglier. Now Merc upgraded to more linear and higher nose. I expect Ferrari to copy it. There is definitely engineering competition and catch up game. But wheather it’s enough? No. Merc is way ahead of them all.


My forecast for the season with the info available so far, from watching TV and reading JAonF1:

1. MB. My view is that MB did their homework best and are way ahead and will be able to hold both WCC and WDC, like Brawn did in ’09

In previous years they have been fast but not consistent and ate up tyres, and now they solved these issues and have enough downforce

They also have the best driver pairing so far and already adapted to the new cars (my money is on HAM)

MB might let them race (good for the fans) as long as there is no close threat, then there will be team orders and ROS might end up fighting the RBRs to secure HAM’s WDC

I also think it is good if MB wins and gets a stronger position in F1 opposing RBR’s present status

2. RBR. They seems to be the faster chassis already, but are down on power and reliability, something Newey et al can only do so much about, so it is more up to Renault, than RBR’s ability to develop quickly

For example, top speed was solved before with gear ratios, something they can’t do this year (I think)

So they will close down but probably not enough

Their drivers are great (RIC is fun to watch) but I am sure VET will get on top of things eventually (even if VET haters will not agree), he seems to be a slow learner when not everything is to his liking (including team orders)

I sense he as HAM’s speed plus MSC’s precision, but so far lacks ALO’s adaptability (even if Seebee and fans will not agree)

3. Ferrari. They will close down, and some tracks might suit them, and Mattiacci will push for development, but maybe too little too late

ALO will save them from time to time, but there is only so much he can do

RAI will improve I think (I hope), and give ALO a run from time to time

4. My money (or rather hopes) are on FI to keep ahead of the rest and nibbling at the RedCab’s heels

HUL will bring them consistent points and PER the eventual good result, while they chase each other all year

Williams might fade or have bad luck and McLaren better start working on the new Honda car and forget about this year (again)

What I will do for the rest of the season is enjoy the intra team battles (best driver pairings in a long time), hope for the occasional rain/SC mix up, and expect Renault, Ferrari and Honda to come up with competitive and reliable PUs for next year


Vettel is simply not in the same class as Lewis and Alonso, who as an example, have (surprise! surprise!) fully adapted to 2014 as any top driver should. Four races in, Vettel still hasn’t.

The best drivers are the most adaptable, because they’ve got the skills to dance ANY car on a sixpence.

That’s not to say Vettel is a slouch though. He just shouldn’t be classed with Lewis, Alonso and Schumacher (above all).


I agree Vettel should not be classed with Schumi. Neither should Alonso and Hamilton. Schumi won as many titles as those three drivers together.


and schumacher won 2 wdc more than fangio, and even so, i don’t think they were at the same league, aren’t they?


It’s not just about the number of titles.

As Nico Rosberg proved it against Michael Schumacher.


James with Newey at the Silverstone WEC race spending time in the Porsche pits is there any chance they could be trying to woo Porsche into becoming an engine supplier? With rumors of Renault looking to possibly invest in if not outright purchase Lotus this would be a good move.

I think it will take the rest of the season for Mattiuci (sp) to clean the muck out of Ferrari so I don’t expect a ton from them except in Spain. Next year though they could be very good.

Merc would have to have some serious issues to not win the WCC though.


I just think he didm\t fancy going to China, wanted Easter at home with his kids, race day at the Operations Room in RBR factory and as Silverstone is down the road, why not check in with Webber, probably the only chance he will have this season to do that

Newey wouldn’t open talks with Porsche, it’s not his job and those conversations can happen away from prying eyes at a race track


Exactly my thoughts.


How did Webber Go?


Good result on their debut, disaster for Audi.


Finished 3rd behind the two Toyotas


I suspect Newey is feeling a little jaded from years of stressful work, a dislike of the new formula, the loss from the team of his mate and his growing interest in competitive sailing craft.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumped to another discipline to keep his soul satisfied. He certainly doesn’t need the money from Red Bull Racing. Although Red Bull might fancy funding him in his new sporting interest?


@ Gaz

Now Newey knows why Clarkson always asks for more “POWER!!!!!!!!!!!”


Adrian went to school with a certain Yorkshireman called Jeremy Clarkson.

I bet Mr Newey still has nightmares and flash-backs about that experience, and you do wonder if wasn’t traumatised that by experience!



There’s just one thing I don’t get. How did Red Bull manage to get the #2 spot in the COnstructors Championship after a few races when they couldn’t manage to complete more than 10 laps in a row throughout testing?

What happened to the “other” teams clocking thousands of miles in testing while Red Bull was watching from the pit wall?!

I mean, Mercedes prepared for this moment for 6 years. Red Bull? 6 weeks…and they’re the only threat to Mercedes for the foreseeable future…where’s everybody else?!


Good question there Carlos.

That point hasn’t really been given the attention it deserves.

RBR really deserves massive respect for their capabilities.


Why do people keep quoting the speed difference at the end of the straight between merc and rb? It’s totally misleading. Top speed is a function of drag/downforce and acceleration. Rb have been slowest on the straights for years as they choose a high downforce setup with shorter stacked gears that get them to a high speed quicker keeping them out of overtaking range when they have already come off the corner quicker due to high df/ drag setup.

There is a huge spectrum of cars across with grid with different pu’s at different top speeds

this year more than any before is about the complete package, pu, aero and cooling installation. mercs main advantages are in the integration of the systems of the up and the knock on effect of improved internal and external aero.

Horner banging on about top speed is just another load of misinformation and propagander.


Exactly! Just look at the straight line speed of the Toro Rosso.

When Red Bull win, it’s thanks to their good design, not the Renault engine mapping, it’s driveability or fuel efficiency. But when they start losing, it’s because of the lack of engine power or the tyres.

Mercedes are as fast as the RB in the high speed corners while having a great advantage in terms of traction and straight line speed. RB will have their work cut out trying to catch them.


Toro Rosso is quick on straights because it compromises its aero to achieve that

RBR wants more power so it can run the huge downforce it wants to for the corners and still be competitive


Well you can’t have your cake and eat it.


I personally think Ferrari should switch to Mercedes engines. That way Alonso can tell his children one day that he competed in a competetive Ferrari


How naive.

McLaren, Force India and Williams all have Merc engines. I don’t see them being competitive.





My view is what ll destroy Mercedes AMG is more the absence of Ross and now Bell. Seems to me there is people there that could not wait to be quoted in media headlines. We should all remember that this car is as a result of Willis and Bell under Brawns supervision.

Even with all the resources and the brilliance of Lowe before this year is over more key people will leave that team from visible factions and purging going on there.



Off the top of my head i don’t think anyone has caught a team after a opening 4 race domination.

Probably end up like 1988 season. Maybe Monaco might throw up a different winner.

I’m looking forward to 2015 season though!!


“Probably end up like 1988 season. Maybe Monaco might throw up a different winner.”

Who will take the role of Jean-Louis Schlesser? My money would be on Pastor!


Here’s some sobering thoughts.

1. If Vettel won the next four races, with his teammate second (and looking at the pair of them that seems unlikely) He still wouldn’t be in front of the Mercedes drives if they shared the 3rds and fourths.

2. Even if they took 5 1-2s in a row with Mercedes 3-4 Red-Bull still wouldn’t lead the constructors.

The difficulty for everyone else is that not only do they need to get in front of Mercedes and stay there, really they need another team to do the same. Alonso is so far adrift of the Mercedes drivers that they can potter round and pick up 2nd and 3rd places and eroding a 40 point gap and 7 points a race… He needs Kimi to increase the amount eats into that gap, and ideally Vettel as well but if it isn’t one person winning the races it is even harder to close up the lead.

Except in Bahrain, the Mercs have not gone flat out (I’ve yet to seem either of them engage 8th gear) Hamilton is going faster without using as much fuel or taking as much out of the tyres as the rest of the top 10. He’s won 3 in a row, I wouldn’t bet against him winning the next and nobody has one 4 in a row without being Champion (as far as I can find out). Vettel won 13 last year including 9 in a row (4 of the last dozen championships have seen the winner win more than 10 – Vettel twice and Schumacher twice). I don’t see why Mansell’s 5 in a row from 1992 and 9 in total (one more than half, so that would be 10 or 11 this year) should be out of Hamilton’s reach.


If one is searching for a reality check on this years Constructors Championship it requires only a brief glance into the eyes of Christian Horner…not to be confused with the statements coming from his mouth.

It was over before it began, decided on the drawing boards of the engine designers at Mercedes long before the first race of this season.

Just as Vettel’s championships were not won on the track so much as the drawing board of Adrian Newey, this years driving champion will owe most of his victory to the design brilliance of the engine design team. That is the reality of F1 racing, and it has been for the majority of the history of the sport.

The real question now is…..can Honda bring a competitive engine to the table, and will McLaren be up to the task of packaging it into a winning program….they don’t have the recent history to encourage one to be optomistic.


If it were just the engine, McLaren, Williams and Force India would be 2 seconds up the track from Red Bull and Ferrari as well, and they’re not.

But I’ll bet Honda has a split turbo in their engine. I’ll bet Renault and Ferrari have one as well for 2015.


It’s possible that Mercedes may only be chasing ever diminishing returns at this point, but are there not other possiblities to consider:

1. Because the Mercedes’ turbo architecture is quite different to Ferarri and Renault, perhaps there are even greater performance enhancements to be had there, relative to their rivals’ designs.

2: If it’s the case that Mercedes don’t have the most effective aero package relative to, say, Red Bull, there could be even more performance found there, as well.

It’s possible that Red Bull and Ferrari (or others) can close the performance gap considerably, but it’s also possible that there’s much more performance to unlock from the W05 package — especially after four races and several tests under their belts.

Considering that they run the most efficient package — and quite reliably — their advantage looks incredibly difficult to overcome for all of 2014, let alone in the next three weeks.


The Mercedes engine seems to have a strong advantage in cooling and efficiency– both probably due to the split turbo design, which appears to have clutches on the turbine and compressor. This should allow them to let the “unused” portion of the motor/generator to spin freely, giving less drag, therefore more efficiency.

Likewise, having the “hot” and “cold” ends of the turbo at opposite ends of the engine means a more efficient intercooler, less turbo lag, and lowered cooling requirements for the intake (and colder air is denser, which means more efficiency).

Those two aspects are going to be hard to match via “reliability” updates.

Chassis-wise, at the moment, I suspect the W05 has better grip and downforce than the other cars as well, and I doubt Ross Brawn would sign off on a chassis that was already at 100% of it’s potential at launch– remember the MP4-27 was abandoned because McLaren felt it couldn’t be developed any further.

The other teams are going to develop, but so will Mercedes, and being unlikely to be out of the top 6 very often, it’s going to be tough for anyone to catch them in the constructor’s.


“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?

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).


Oh snap! lol


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.


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.


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.


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.


Ubergreg, the team principal’s ultimate goal is to co-ordinate and direct in order to create the fastest car on the grid. Brawn achieved that 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2009 has an asterisk against it. It’s a great achievement, but Brawn’s overall record is flattered by Schumacher’s ability.

Schumacher only ever had a dominant car for 3 seasons yet delivered 7 titles. Then there’s the race wins which he still piled on in years like 96, 97 and 98 with a car that had no business fighting for wins. His leg break in 99 robbed him of a likely title that year.

I think better to judge a team principal, technical director, designer in terms of how often they created the best car on the grid rather than simply titles. In the same way that people don’t really judge Piquet’s driving ability by his 3 titles or Keke Rosberg’s single title.

Right now you’d have to say Christian Horner is the number one team principal. Red Bull were a party team going back 8 years. They were bit of a joke. Now the name Red Bull Racing carries more cachet than McLaren, Williams or Ferrari.


The facts as you state them make him seem even more of a first choice for a team principal, as it demonstrates kind of vision, organisational ability and leadership required to bring success, even when his team(s) didn’t have the best of everything.

Out of curiosity whom, of the current team principals, would you choose to run your F1 team over Ross?


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Let’s hope so!

David in Sydney

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

“Bottas is faster than you”.

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.


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


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.


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?


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”.


Lol good one…


Of course! Thera are always “issues”


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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?.


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.


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.


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


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.

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.


@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.


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


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


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


@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..

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.


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.


@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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Well said.

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


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.

David in Sydney

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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


“Button cited that both cars on different setup were slow”

Very sad to see how clueless this team has become.


thanks …I just love fairy stories !


+1 Spot on

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.


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


@Alexander Supertramp

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

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.


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

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.


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.


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


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.

David in Sydney

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


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)


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


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


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.


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.


“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…


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


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)

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.


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?


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….


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


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


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

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.


“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.



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?


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


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””


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.


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.




and except coanda effect exploitation


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.


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


Agree and very true.

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


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….


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.


“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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.



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.


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

The problem others have is integration.


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.


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.

David in Sydney


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.


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


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…


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.


Engine homologation is not new.


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


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!


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?


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


Are you Sebastians father? 😉


Or Helmut Marko in disguise with the internet alias of “George”


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.



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.




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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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


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


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


@ 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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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…….


Maybe the other Nico will answer the add


That would be an excellent recruitment!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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…)


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.