Red Bull Looking for a Mercedes Secret
Why is Mercedes better on the straights?
GP USA 2021
Mercedes drove away from Red Bull on the last straight. Loss of time while driving straight ahead weakens the Milton Keynes racing team. Red Bull is therefore putting one theory after another into the room. Finally, Mercedes lowered the rear axle at higher speeds. The World Championship team does not deny this either.
That’s the question that worries Red Bull: why is Mercedes again gaining time on the opposite straights of its car since Silverstone? Sometimes even a surprising amount. The racing team of Milton Keynes has yet to find the exact explanation. This is why Red Bull puts forward various theories and questions the FIA, hoping to hit the bull’s eye with one of them.
The loss on the Straits is surprising given that there was a phase this season in which Red Bull blew up Mercedes with a more powerful Honda engine. The World Championships team was immediately suspicious of the flexible rear wing. But although the FIA tightened up with new stress tests from the French GP, Red Bulls were still quick. In the following two races in Austria, the dark blue cars with Japanese engines also destroyed their opponents. Then Mercedes was horrified.
lowering the stern
In England, however, the pendulum again swung in favor of the Silver Arrow. Red Bull suddenly realized that Mercedes has accelerated, especially when accelerating. Behind this was suspected a trick with clever cooling of the air collector (plenum). An attempt at clarification at the FIA came to nothing.
Even in the race after the summer break, Mercedes has the upper hand when it comes to driving straight ahead. For example, in Turkey, Lewis Hamilton qualified on a long straight between 10 and 12, about one-and-a-half-tenth of a second over Max Verstappen. And so gradually Red Bull begins to get frustrated with this superiority. The team enthusiastically seeks an explanation, and corrects the topic.
A new theory emerged in Austin. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner spoke of reducing Mercedes’ rear end on the straights and thus reducing aerodynamic drag at high speeds. Even the world champions do not deny this. opposite of this. From the warehouse of Mercedes it is said that they have been driving a car with this type of suspension for five years. PS: Other teams too – with the exception of Red Bull. At Mercedes, one has to wonder why the rival is only thinking about it now.
Rear suspension homologated from 2020 onwards
At high speeds the vertical forces acting on cars automatically push the rear end closer to the road. With the same geometry of the suspension, this effect can be intensified and the efficiency of the diffuser can be impaired. It brings up the top speed automatically. Obviously there are teams that push this to an even greater limit than Mercedes. The FIA has no objection to this “trick”. But there should be no active system behind it. It would be illegal. Mercedes engineers haven’t done anything on the rear suspension for over a year. The homologation of cars restricted the transformation. Mercedes has placed its growth token in a different area.
Since Red Bull itself is not allowed to change anything on the suspension – the keyword homologation – the hands of its own engineers are tied. It will also not be so easy to fit it in the car overnight. This requires some adjustment. For example, in sharp corners the rear should not be lowered too much, as it does not require air resistance, but the maximum possible contact pressure. A racetrack like Silverstone with ultra-fast corners requires a lot of fine-tuning.
Still, the question remains why does Mercedes have the advantage on the straights again? Something must have happened there. Red Bull is right about it. The defending champion has denied changing anything in the V6 turbo’s calibration. You drive with the same setting at the start of the season. Instead, Mercedes attributes its increase in performance to another factor.
Mercedes lowers wind resistance
Team boss Toto Wolff says: “We have reduced wind resistance. And we understand our car better and better.” Less drag should really mean that Mercedes loses in the corners. However, this has not happened in the last few races. Whether it’s a slow corner or a fast corner: the W12 was always accompanied by music.
With better understanding, Mercedes has found a better set-up for the car, according to its own statement. And so the silver arrow trimmed for every type of curve. You more than manage to absorb damage through cuts in the underbody and rear brake ventilation. Compared to the first race of the season, the W12 is much more stable on the rear axle. The loose link is history. “Handling is much better. The car is a bit more stable, steerable and has better balance,” says Valtteri Bottas.
The upgrade from Silverstone was definitely a good move. Since then, Mercedes hasn’t used any new parts. Red Bull, on the other hand, has equipped the RB16B with one update or another. Maybe it was too much. For some races it has been observed that Red Bull is having a hard time with the vehicle set-up. At the beginning of the season it was completely different. The Challenger had a car with a wide setup window and the Mercedes only a small one.
Another assumption is made at Silver Arrow’s camp. Perhaps Red Bull-Honda has also taken a small step back. It is shattered that Honda is no longer pushing its big turbos as high as it was before summer vacation. As a reminder: the Japanese changed the loader’s specification over the course of the season. But how do you want the low revolutions of the turbine to be detected without being employed by the Japanese? good question
You note: this topic is not easy to understand because different interpretations and theories come from different corners. Red Bull doesn’t have much time left this season. Perhaps the Verstappen team should focus better on making the most of their package in every race – and less on Mercedes. But: it’s part of the business to shoot against your opponent, regardless of level. In this way you create disturbance in some form or the other. Mercedes does the same.
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