Formula 1 | It was not in a straight line, but in corners that Mercedes F1 dominated Red Bull in Qatar


At Interlagos, Red Bull was headwind against Lewis Hamilton’s « magic engine » and rear wing, which were supposed to give him an incomparable advantage on the straights. And indeed in Brazil, it was only in sector 2 (the more winding one) that Max Verstappen could beat Lewis Hamilton, while he was largely behind in the other two.

But at Losail, with its “old engine”, it was in the corners, and no longer in the straights, that Mercedes made the difference. This is what Andrew Shovlin, chief racing engineer at Mercedes, assures today, and it is obviously a response to the accusations of Red Bull.

“Well, if you think about it in a very basic sense, you do your lap time based on your performance in a straight line, where the riders are at full throttle, and then based on the performance in the corners. « 

“On some recent circuits we have equaled Red Bull in the corners and gained an advantage in the straight line. But in Qatar, it ended up being the other way around. We were at their level in a straight line and we found plenty of time in the corners. « 

« So where did this time come from? » Well, there are really two things to mention. One is the downforce you can get on the car and clearly our package was working pretty well here helping us generate a lot of cornering speed. « 

“But there’s also the balance of the car and that’s the thing that we adjust with the mechanical settings, the springs and the bars, also the front wing that we can adjust. « 

“And for our pilots, they had a balance that they were very happy with, they had stability on entry, they could attack in the turn, pick up speed and finally you saw that with this fantastic lap from Lewis. for pole position. « 

“But like I said, there are a lot of factors, but this week it was really the performance in the corners that set that pace. « 

But why didn’t Mercedes choose to fit the Interlagos engine in Qatar? After all, you never knew what Max Verstappen and Red Bull would be capable of.

For Shovlin, it was obvious: it was necessary to save mileage by betting on the more winding nature of Losail, compared to Interlagos or Jeddah.

“It wasn’t the engine, the fresh engine, that we took from Brazil, that we had in Qatar. « 

“It was an older engine and because it’s older it has a little less power. Now why are we doing this in Qatar? Well, of the remaining circuits Qatar has the shortest straight, the shortest full throttle race and there are a lot of corners. « 

“So the power advantage you get from this engine in Qatar is much smaller than if you run it on the remaining two circuits. « 

“All we do is try to balance the mileage across the whole pool, but make sure that when we use the less powerful engine there is less penalty for that and that means also that when we get to the last two circuits, we’re going to have as much power as possible. « 



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