Tag: the Grand Prix

The weakness of Mercedes at the Grand Prix celebrating 70 years of F1 (Part 3)

Pirelli increases the minimum tire pressure to protect the tires from damaging external forces such as at the British Grand Prix. But when inflated, the tires get a little more bulky, reducing the contact area of ​​the tire. This change is difficult to see with the naked eye but has serious consequences for a sensitive machine like the F1 car.

The consequences were even greater when it happened on the W11 – a superior car. It was capable of reaching high speeds in the corners thanks to the power of the engine and the great amount of compression. This put the tires under the load far more than the competition.

The tire overheating is something Mercedes has also predicted before the race. But they predict that the problem will be mainly with the front tires, as at the British Grand Prix. So Mercedes tried to preserve the front tires by changing the set-ups. However, the reality on the track is completely different. This caused the German team to fire by asking the drivers to slow down to keep the rear tires.

So why is the same condition, the same situation impacts Mercedes more than Red Bull?

The decision to let Bottas have a second tire change right after Verstappen also seems like a bizarre one. This caused the Finnish racer to quickly fall behind. Bottas criticized the home team after the race. However, in general, Mercedes’ choice at that time was not to compete with Verstappen but to find a way to escape the pressure from Charles Leclerc, a Ferrari driver emerging as a threat thanks to 1-pit tactics.

Moreover, the most important factor that caused Bottas to be called into the pit earlier than Hamilton was that the directors were concerned about the vibration from the rear tires of the W11. Hamilton was not subjected to the same vibrations, allowing the British driver to extend his second set of tires. In fact, despite the prolonged use of the second set of tires, even using the 1-pit tactic, Mercedes is unlikely to beat Verstappen.

The weakness of Mercedes at the Grand Prix celebrating 70 years of F1 (Part 1)

The past two races at Silverstone show that F1 cars are extremely sensitive machines.

The same car with a racer on the same Silverstone race for two completely different results. Mercedes finished first in comfort at the British Grand Prix on August 2. But the following week, they struggled again with Max Verstappen, even though the RB16 was completely inferior to the W11 at Silverstone the week before.

Has Verstappen accidentally pointed out the inherent weakness of the W11?

The capacity of the F1 car lies in two key factors: engine power and aerodynamic compression. However, while mastering both of these elements, teams must have a good understanding of how the tires work, in order to convert their potential power into a track result.

Without mastering the tires, no matter how strong the car is, it will not be able to perform well. As a result, teams spend a lot of time and money on field testing, carefully understanding how the tires work on the track to optimize the vehicle’s performance.

Basically, the two Red Bull and Mercedes cars have not changed in engine power – aerodynamics between the last two races at Silverstone. The ratings show that the distance between the W11 and the RB16 is about one second per lap.

This parameter was predicted early and demonstrated in previous races. But during the race at Silverstone on Aug. 9, a clear weakness was evident on the W11 as Mercedes was unable to translate its performance advantage into actual results on the track.

The longer the tire use time, the more the W11 tires will blister and quickly deteriorate. This has a significant impact on performance, so after just a few laps, Mercedes ordered both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to slow down to keep the tires.

But the tire problem at the F1 70 Grand Prix differs in essence from the breakdown at the British Grand Prix.