How Mercedes can beat Red Bull at their own game

2013 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2013There’s no great mystery to how Red Bull have managed to rack up three consecutive constructors’ championships in a row, nor how Sebastian Vettel has used it as a springboard to a hat-trick of drivers’ championships.

Red Bull’s cars have consistently been the fastest over a single lap, meaning they have more often than not started from pole position. So while Adrian Newey’s downforce monsters tend to be on the draggy side, knocking a few kph off their top speed at most tracks, the precious advantage of starting first has helped them rack up win after win and title after title.

But the emergence of Mercedes as a force this year could be about to change that. They’ve been the team to beat in qualifying this year, and at the Hungarian Grand Prix they sent Red Bull a warning that they have little to fear from them on race day too.

Teams performance in the first ten races of 2013

This table compares the fastest lap time set by every team at each race weekend in 2013 (in any session) and shows how far each team was off the quickest lap time, as a percent:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013teamcolours.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain Spain Monaco Canada Britain Germany Hungary
Red Bull 0 0.25 0.91 0.28 0.42 0.14 0.53 0.67 0.12 0.05
Ferrari 0.98 0.49 0.32 0.36 0.62 1.28 0 1.53 0.48 0.51
McLaren 2.78 0.66 1.38 1.49 1.33 1.71 0.81 2.28 0.97 1.46
Lotus 0.53 0.39 0.29 0.88 0.57 1.28 0.35 1.5 0.51 0.26
Mercedes 0.48 0 0 0 0 0 0.02 0 0 0
Sauber 2.65 1.55 1.88 1.72 2.07 2.77 2.21 2.86 0.93 1.5
Force India 1.78 0.41 1.91 0.98 1.61 2.04 0.77 1.26 1.45 1.49
Williams 3.43 1.22 2.81 1.92 3.15 2.69 2.01 3.07 2.57 1.8
Toro Rosso 2.26 1.59 1.6 1.78 1.75 2.47 1 1.28 0.92 1.43
Caterham 4.96 2.92 4.59 3.2 4.88 5.45 3.23 4.75 3.96 4.56
Marussia 4.41 2.33 4.25 4.17 4.95 5.44 3.01 5.02 4.1 5.54

It’s clear to see the W04 has usually been the quickest car over a single lap this year. Significantly on the two occasions where it wasn’t – in Australia and Canada – rain affected the final practice and qualifying sessions in which the fastest times of the weekend are usually set, skewing the data.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2013It’s no stretch of the imagination to suggest Mercedes have had the quickest car over a single lap at every race this year.

They’ve duly converted that into pole position in seven of the ten races so far. However their win rate has been the opposite: just three out of ten.

The reason for that has often been that the Mercedes has overheated its tyres in the race and dropped back. At Monaco, where tyre wear is far lower, they locked out the front row of the grid, held their rivals up and won. At Silverstone tyres were exploding left, right and centre, then Vettel’s gearbox failed and victory fell into Nico Rosberg’s lap.

But Hungary might just have been a turning point. On a viciously hot day, when the W04 was expected to cook its Pirellis, Lewis Hamilton converted pole position into victory. It helped that Vettel spent the early part of the race in traffic, but in the second half the Mercedes was a match for the Red Bull on pace even when both were running in clear air.

What’s more, the Mercedes does not have the straight-line speed disadvantage of the Red Bull. Hamilton easily passed Jenson Button in the race while Vettel, giving away 10kph to the Mercedes on the straight, lost a dozen laps staring at Button’s rear wing.

This will surely have set alarm bells ringing in Milton Keynes. For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too. We could be in a fascinating second half of the championship as the silver cars chip away at their rivals’ advantage in the points standings.

Ferrari and Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2013It’s not yet a two-horse race in the championship. Ferrari and Lotus have been able to outstrip Red Bull and Mercedes on race pace on occasions in the season so far.

Their weakness is in qualifying where they are usually fighting for the third row, from where they are finding it increasingly hard to win races.

Lotus had the edge in the last two races, putting the heat on Red Bull and Mercedes, but falling short of victory. But Ferrari are clearly growing frustrated at getting close, but not quite close enough, to consistent race-winning pace.

It looked like Ferrari had finally cracked it when Fernando Alonso won two of the opening five rounds. But since then they’ve slipped back and have not been shy about explaining the reasons why.

Last weekend president Luca di Montezemolo accused the FIA of letting Mercedes off the hook over their controversial test for Pirelli ahead of their breakthrough Monaco win, and reiterated past criticisms about Formula One’s rules being too focused on aerodynamics, an area where Red Bull have clearly excelled.

Another explanation for Ferrari’s continued struggles is their wind tunnel. The team have been using Toyota’s equipment in Cologne while their own tunnel in Maranello is worked on to resolve the correlation problems they’ve been experiencing.

One advantage Lotus and Ferrari do enjoy over their rivals is reliability. Red Bull have already lost one win to a technical failure this year and Rosberg’s Mercedes has let him down three times on Sunday. While the E21 and F138 have not been free from glitches, they’ve only had one race-ending failure between them.

The rest of the teams

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Hungaroring, 2013McLaren’s problems this season have been well-documented. Slow progress is being made and the MP4-28s are increasingly found among the lower reaches of the points-scorers in the midfield.

They appear to have been helped by Force India’s struggles with the Kevlar-belted tyres, first introduced in Germany then revised for the last race in Hungary. Paul di Resta, a consistent points-scorer earlier in the season, was eliminated in Q1 at the Hungaroring, perplexed by his inability to make the current tyres work.

Sauber, however, have made a clear step forward after a horrible start to the season. Their tyre performance looked much better in Hungary and only a drive-through penalty kept Nico Hulkenberg from a points finished. The beleaguered team look set for a more positive second half of the season.

At the back of the field Caterham and Marussia continue to show little sign of getting on terms with the midfield. The latter had a dreadful weekend in Hungary, struggling massively with the tyres. Having begun the year ahead of Caterham they were lapped by their rivals at the Hungaroring.

As we pass the mid-point in the season all the teams now have to grapple with the vital question of how much of their resources to divert to next year’s radical overhaul of the rules. For some, like struggling McLaren, the benefit of focusing early on next year is clear.

But Ross Brawn has said Mercedes will wait and see how they perform at the next two races – on high-speed tracks which should suit their car – before making that call. By then the championship situation could look every different.

Over to you

Are Mercedes the greatest threat to Red Bull in the second half of the season? What do you expect Lotus and Ferrari to achieve? Have your say in the comments.

2013 F1 season


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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Lotus/LAT, Sauber

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142 comments on How Mercedes can beat Red Bull at their own game

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  1. hopkinsonf1 (@hopkinsonf1) said on 6th August 2013, 11:29

    “At Silverstone tyres were exploding left, right and centre.”

    Channeling Murray Walker there, Keith? ;-)

    • Laminator (@laminator) said on 6th August 2013, 22:02

      One win and all tongues start wagging… If you really have to talk about Mercedes, Rosberg is the man…

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 7th August 2013, 0:26

        And the evidence of that is where?

      • dup said on 7th August 2013, 0:59

        Hamilton is totally finished for this year.he has yet again a girl friend who is trying hard to destabilise him by dragging him in america and taking his money after marriage then divorce.distracted by that he is not and will not be at his best .Rosberg is the man for Mercedes despite the fact that i dislike that.look for Rosberg to outrace Hamilton due to his American ?is she ?dollar chaser.

      • Hydro (@hydrouk) said on 7th August 2013, 1:07

        I don’t see how Rosberg is the man, if my calculations are correct and we remove the bad luck the Merc drivers have had, I can’t see how Rosberg is the man.

        HAM ROS
        AUS 10 8 Rosberg 6th behind Hamilton who finishes fifth (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/03/17/2013-australian-grand-prix-lap-charts/)
        MAL 22 23 Rosberg takes 3rd and Hamilton finishes fourth
        CHI 37 27 Rosberg doesn’t DNF and gets 8th which was his postion before he started to slip away and retire (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/04/14/2013-chinese-grand-prix-lap-charts/)
        BAH 47 29
        SPA 47 37
        MON 59 62
        CAN 74 72
        BRI 99 90 Hamilton doesn’t have a puncture, Rosberg takes second and Hamilton finishes first
        GER 109 92
        HUN 134 94 Rosberg doesn’t retire, takes 9th (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/07/28/2013-hungarian-grand-prix-lap-charts/)

        • Beg you pardon but i don’t think Nico can take P2 if you consider every one finishes the race as Vettel was ahead of him. He(Vettel) and Lewis was in a tight battle. So a P1 for Lewis , P2 for Vettel and P3 for Nico might be right. So take the 3 Points too. so by Hungary 134 91

          • Hydro (@hydrouk) said on 7th August 2013, 13:02

            My original plan had it laid out with Rosberg finishing in P3, but I only wanted to look at the Mercedes drivers misfortunes so in the end I changed it to where Vettel was still going to DNF allowing Rosberg to take second. Even with changes like the one I did at the last second giving Rosberg more points, and if someone wants to push him up the order in some of the races he retired in he still wouldn’t be near Hamilton’s points.

  2. Candice said on 6th August 2013, 11:31

    Its basically game over when Merc sorted out their rear tire degradation.

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 6th August 2013, 17:04

      Well for the WCC it will be close if RB continues to sabotage Webber’s car – but then on the other hand it seems Merc is doing the same with Rosberg. :)

      • Libellula (@ladyf1fanatic) said on 6th August 2013, 18:28

        @TMF @tmf42: This is very unfair to both Red Bull & Mercedes which are in F1 to compete at thier best and win, spending loads of money, time and resources and hiring many people … You should be ashamed of yourself first because there’s no evidence to back up this assumption and it would be pretty counterproductive for the Constructors championship. Webber and Rosberg are great drivers, but the likes of Vettel and Hamilton are way better, they are world champions!

    • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 6th August 2013, 19:28

      It’s far from game over. Mercedes can beat Red Bull, but they need a huge amount of luck and hard work to achieve that. Vettel is still far ahead and Red Bulls are getting faster. I think we will see Vettel on pole soon, and when he gets there, it will be very difficult to catch him.

    • BreezyRacer (@breezyracer) said on 6th August 2013, 23:02

      IMO Merc need to keep two cars in the points, which they have been hit/miss at so far. I think that Lotus is better placed as far as constructor to upend Red Bull. Frankly though I doubt anyone can catch them. RBR responds quite quickly and they their updates almost always work.

  3. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 6th August 2013, 11:36

    I still think thar Red Bull might still edge it. But I hope Hamilton/Rosberg takes the title to the last race (chiefly because, whilst not a fan of Vettel in any way – 2012 race in Brazil was in my top 3 fav races I’ve ever seen).

    I think that Mercedes still have some reliability issues to sort out, which may hamper them. But this is all looking good for 2014…

  4. Shimks (@shimks) said on 6th August 2013, 11:38

    This article has got me all excited. Is Red Bull’s reign of terror over!

    So while Adrian Newey’s downforce monsters tend to be on the draggy side, knocking a few kph off their top speed at most tracks, the precious advantage of starting first has helped them rack up win after win and title after title.

    We all know securing P1 in qualifying gives a massive advantage. But what does it say about F1? I have a friend who refuses to watch F1, joking, “I watch the start into the first corner and then I switch off because I know who’s won”. Although this is an exaggeration, it clearly isn’t a gross exaggeration.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 6th August 2013, 12:02

      @shimks I think the picture is a bit more complicated. In 2013, less than half of the races (4/10) have been won from the pole position. The same happened in 2010 (8/19) and 2011 (9/19). In 2012, exactly 50% of the races were won from the pole (10/20).

      • Mike (@mike) said on 6th August 2013, 12:44

        I reckon those are some pretty healthy figures. :D

      • Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 6th August 2013, 13:23

        @shimks We all know securing P1 in qualifying gives a massive advantage. But what does it say about F1?

        Actually F1 is like any other sport, the cream always rises to the top. Whatever format you might bring to F1 the fastest teams always battle for wins. Only one race on the calender suits your argument and that is Monaco. But even there the race has it’s own unique attractions and most fans welcome it. At the rest of the tracks there are various strategies to also take into account, like what tyre to start the race on, how long to run the first stint depending on who can better preserve the tyres, how many pit-stops and who is going to be leading when all the different strategies converge in the last stint. This all is very exciting for true fans and except for a bit more durability in the tyres and doing away with the DRS I wouldn’t change a thing.

      • Andy (@turbof1) said on 6th August 2013, 13:57

        We should be careful with looking at wins from pole. The mercedes effect affects the number greatly. Vettel for instance converted 2 out of 3 poles into a win. Mercedes only 2 out of 7.
        We could also see it differently: out of the 10 poles those 2 teams took together, 7 of them got won by either of them.

        • JCost (@jcost) said on 6th August 2013, 14:37

          @turbof1 bear in mind that Mercedes score has been greatly affected by their inability to make the tyres last, if they make tyres work like they did in Hungary I think more poles will be converted into wins.

          • Andy (@turbof1) said on 6th August 2013, 14:48

            Yes correct. It would certainly raise the ratio also. My main criticism about the ratio is that it is too simple. It is heavily influenced by an analomy (mercedes). But that analomy is starting to fix itself. I think the next 2 grand prix will raise that statistic significantly already.

          • Andy (@turbof1) said on 6th August 2013, 15:08

            *should be anomaly >.<

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 6th August 2013, 14:40

      @shimks thank God it is like this, otherwise Sutardays would mean nothing. However, even though P1 is still the best place to start, it is getting harder to convert poles into wins.

    • Back in the mid 2000′s and earlier, the first driver into turn one would usually win, given the processional races of the time.

    • Shimks (@shimks) said on 6th August 2013, 17:15

      Thanks, everyone, for your interesting answers!!

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 6th August 2013, 19:03

      But the line “This will surely have set alarm bells ringing in Milton Keynes. For the first time since early 2009 Red Bull have a rival who can consistently out-qualify and out-race them too” makes me question what exactly was the 2012 McLaren? Outside of the flyaways in the 2nd half of the season, was it not always in the mix? RB getting 14 podiums with 6 being wins whereas McLaren had 13 podiums with 7 wins… Arguable about HAM’s, WEB’s, and VET’s retirements though.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th August 2013, 19:24

        @beejis60 Red Bull had the fastest car in seven races last year, McLaren nine. Compare that to this year: Red Bull once (in a rain-affected weekend), Mercedes eight times out of ten. And there’s McLaren’s persistent unreliability last year to factor in as well.

        • BJ (@beejis60) said on 6th August 2013, 20:07

          So you’re saying that I am right? I rest my case…

          RBR’s car was also problematic (not necessarily their fault); VETs two alternator failures, I believe, WEB being crashed out twice, BUT’s fuel pickup, HAM’s gearbox failure, and getting crashed out by the first lap nutcase, MAL, and Hulk, etc.
          But I was basing my analysis on just podiums and wins, not lap times with respect to the rest of the field. One could argue that, though McLaren had less points, the potential was there for more wins and podiums than had RBR not had their retirements…

  5. sainaa (@sainaa) said on 6th August 2013, 11:43

    Most of the remaining circuits will hopefully favour Mercedes. Spa, Monza and so on… And Lewis normally ends season better if his car is reliable.

    • Matthijs (@matthijs) said on 6th August 2013, 14:03

      Traditionally Vettel wins most of the Asian GP’s, so it will be tight.

      • Rybo (@rybo) said on 6th August 2013, 15:52

        That has no bearing on Hamilton’s ability to win those races. Not saying Vettel isn’t strong at say Korea, Suzuka or India, but lets be honest he really hasn’t had a challenge from anyone. I’d say the only track that Vettel has the advantage is India maybe Suzuka but, the rest Hamilton has either won or been very close to winning. He’s won Spa, Monza, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Austin. Came close to winning Brazil last year, and had some great drives in Korea.

        • kpcart said on 6th August 2013, 17:00

          history shows hamilton falks away and loses championships as the year goes on ie 2007, 2008 and 2010 he led championships at the end then lost in 07 and 10 and so nearly in 08. no way he will win a championship from 60 points back. he got one race right out of 1… wow

          • Rybo (@rybo) said on 6th August 2013, 20:35

            Except it was McLaren who let him down with the car. RBR has pushed to the end of the season and continually brought upgrades, and maintained reliability. If Mercedes can keep its speed and its reliability at least in Hamilton’s case there is no reason that he can’t win in India or Suzuka which are “Vettel” tracks

          • Yud (@yud77) said on 6th August 2013, 20:41

            +1

          • Yud (@yud77) said on 6th August 2013, 20:43

            +1 to kpcart

          • @rybo do Mercedes switch early to the 2014 project though, as that is where they feel they are going to be very strong? Hamilton may end up being handicapped in the development race again.

            Although what is worth noting is that the McLaren was the fastest car in Abu Dhabi, (arguably) in Austin and in Brazil in 2012, so they only really let him down in terms of reliability at one of those races and the other was just simple bad luck.

          • Rybo (@rybo) said on 6th August 2013, 21:18

            @vettel1 I think they aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m sure they have had a lot of plans for 2014 already and Brawn said that they have to continue development of 2013 car as there is over lap for 2014.

            No matter what Hamilton will always be a factor for a race win given the right car, but the true test is on Mercedes and how they develop the car. The -27 was the fastest over 1 lap, but in the race it was all about RB8

          • @rybo absolutely in India, Japan and Korea but I’m not so sure it was “all about the RB8″ in the rest of the races. I’d say Abu Dhabi is difficult to call as obviously Vettel had to carve his way past 23 cars to get up beside Hamilton (which would have been impossible, especially since Lewis’ car broke down), Austin was pretty much even (maybe swaying slightly in McLaren’s favour) and Brazil was again difficult to call due to the conditions. The point stands though – Red Bull were undoubtably far stronger than they were earlier in the season but I don’t think they really enjoyed a clear advantage apart from in those three races where Vettel lead every lap.

    • @sainaa I’m not sure that’s true at all: if you see my comment here Red Bull have been consistently very good over the last 7 races. Vettel himself also has outscored his teammate to a greater extent usually than earlier in the season, which suggests he performs better relative to the rest of the season himself @rybo. So yes Hamilton is good but Vettel is also very good.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 6th August 2013, 19:33

      And Lewis normally ends season better if his car is reliable.

      It’s Vettel who does that. Alonso in 2010 did so as well, but his two titles (and his near miss last year) relied more on taking a huge lead in the first half, and handling the pressure well in the second half as someone like Raikkonen, Vettel or Schumacher came back at him.

  6. Red Bull’s cushion in the championships can only be a help but it is looking like the balance is in Mercedes’ favour currently with their obvious qualifying advantage and seemingly fixed tyre woes.

    However, what I think is possibly worth mentioning is Rosberg’s engine failure in Hungary – is their an inherent reliability problem with the Mercedes? Probably not but it may be a case of the alternators again…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th August 2013, 12:00

      Funny enough its almost a bit like Brawn’s 2009 season, where Red Bull were on a run from about mid season to the end, but couldn’t quite make it stick through reliability and the comfortable points cushion @vettel1!

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 6th August 2013, 12:56

        @bascb, a key feature of the 2009 season was that Red Bull’s improved form coincided with a slump from Brawn (and Button! – qualifying significantly lower than Barrichello on a number of occasion in the second half of the season). We haven’t seen a slump from Red Bull and Vettel (ever, although last year they had a couple of shaky qualifying performances). Did Vettel ever qualify lower than 3rd yet this season?

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 6th August 2013, 15:11

      @vettel1

      You got a point but, don’t kill my vibe :)

    • iFelix said on 6th August 2013, 18:12

      I think The other factor meddling with this is the other contenders, ie Lotus and Ferrari which combined with the tyre roulette has so far led to Red Bull having a different challenger car each race. If Merc can consistently win this factor actually would help them. But if their tyre form fluctuates then the opposite is true.

      Also we should not ignore the fact that since 2009, Red Bull have had a better second half (with the possible exception of 2011 that they dominated from start). I am not thinking that Newey a magician and all RB’s success is due to him. But there is no denying that their engineering team can deal with technical challenges thrown at them (like the removal of blown diffusers) well in time.

      Final point is the fact that Vettel has done good races when it was clear that at he needs to do some overtaking (as in Yas Marina 2012). So perhaps they can sacrifice some downforce and try to take to race more.

  7. sainaa (@sainaa) said on 6th August 2013, 11:45

    I mean he is better in the second half of the season.

  8. BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th August 2013, 12:01

    Lets wait and see how Red Bull will do on the tracks that have sealed Vettels championship lead in the past 2 seasons – Singapore last year was probably as much to do with Hamiltons car giving up, and Korea could have been different if not for a bit of luck as well.
    India needs someone else to win it instead of Vettel!

  9. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 6th August 2013, 12:19

    I would love to see Mercedes stick it to Red Bull.

    Although I am weary of Red Bull’s pace at the Asian-Tilkedrome part of the season.

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 6th August 2013, 12:49

    I’m hoping there will be a championship challenge from Mercedes, but in my opinion the odds still heavily favour Red Bull. Mercedes look to have an edge in qualifying, but they are not as dominant as the all-dry-races-on-pole statistic suggests. On a number of occasions Vettel has been very close, but did not put in a great lap (running wide in T1 in Germany, and having an average S2 in Hungary).

    On race pace, the next two Grand Prix will pose an interesting challenge for Mercedes. The winning strategy in Monza and Spa will most likely be to do one stop, though last year that was difficult to manage for many teams (such as Ferrari in Monza). If Mercedes (and Red Bull) find it difficult to do one stop, then Lotus might be ready to capitalize.

    Since 2010, Red Bull have not had a really uncompetitive spell, so for Mercedes to make up 48 (69 in the WCC) points, it will require either a very strong and consistent run from Mercedes, or Vettel and Red Bull running into trouble. Both are possible, of course, but so far the odds strongly favour Red Bull. Current form does not suggest that any other team can challenge Red Bull, either.

  11. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 6th August 2013, 12:57

    I would love Hamilton to catch Vettel and really challenge but I just think its too much of a points gap, it would take some bad luck on Vettels part and it wouldn’t be decent of me to hope for that, let’s face it, as big a fan I am Lewis isn’t going to go and dominate the next 9 races, Hugary will be somewhat of a highlight come November (along with Singapore & Abu Dhabi) I feel. In my eyes Sebastian is already quadruple champion, but that doesnt mean im not massively looking forward to the second half of the season to see how Merc go but my mind is cast forward and i find myself eagerly anticipating a Hamilton V Alonso 2014 showdown. I just feel Ferrari have to – and will get it right.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 7th August 2013, 9:24

      @rob-wilson Looking forward to Abu dhabi . Lewis was “killer” there last year in Quali and race. I hope the merc remains reliable . Well , they can have a go at the constructors for sure . Only if Vettel finishes outside the podium a couple of races , it is possible for a title challenge , but I doubt he will do so.

  12. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 6th August 2013, 13:22

    @keithcollantine I must say another great read! I too believe Hamilton and Mercdes are going to become the greatest threat to RBR wining another drivers title. The constructors however seem like a long shot but you can never really know. If Hamilton starts racking up some more wins and Vettel and RBR fall into the clutches of Lotus and Ferrari he’s going to be a prime candidate for winning the title and what a fair tail story that would turn out to be.
    Some presume the main raison those rear tires are not overheating anymore is because Mercedes have added some mysterious slot gaps on the rim of their tyres. You can see them in this sneaky picture taken by some Polish fans at the Hungaroring.

    http://www.f1talks.pl/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/mgp_rear_rim_edited.jpg

    The only thing that worries me is the usual pace RBR has in the second half of the season. It’s bound to happen again and I do hope Mercedes really can mount a real challenge.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 6th August 2013, 14:36

      Interesting picture, although I don’t know how the rims looked before, it might be their solution.

      • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 6th August 2013, 14:50

        I may be completely wrong, but I thought the rims were one of the parts a team could not change mid season. I seem to remember that from another season, maybe with Ferrari’s enclosed wheel thingies?

        I wouldn’t put money on it, it’s just a niggling thought…

        • BJ (@beejis60) said on 7th August 2013, 16:29

          I cannot find the rule where wheels need to be homologated and cannot be changed mid-season for this year…. But you are correct in whatever year that was (I think 2009?).

    • Andy (@turbof1) said on 6th August 2013, 15:57

      It isn’t a slot gap. It caused some major discussion at f1technical, but eventually everybody agreed that it is nothing more then black tape, assumingly to transfer some heat away. Like drmouse mentioned, the rims are homologated and cannot be changed during the season. sticking tape on it though, is allowed.

      • @turbof1 it doesn’t look like black tape to me: the inner section of the rim’s edge just before the dark area is catching the sunlight and reflecting, as if it is on a different plane. I definitely think that the dark area is indented in some way or a section has been removed (at least judging from the light reflections).

        I also can’t find this regulation preventing changes to the wheel rims mid-season in the sporting or technical regulations – can anybody quote or link to this?

    • Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 6th August 2013, 17:30

      If that is black tape I’m going to eat my shoes. I’m not sure about the rims being homologated but I also think the people on F1 technical know their stuff so it is probably right. If that is the case then we might be looking at the next technical row.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th August 2013, 17:56

      I recall @Hairs posted a link to this a while ago, think they might be interested in this discussion.

      • Hairs (@hairs) said on 7th August 2013, 21:45

        @keithcollantine I had, but due to other commitments I haven’t been following it up since then. In fact I’ve had little time to read or post much at all in the past few weeks, and I think we can all agree the world is a poorer place for it.

        Returning to the subject, I think it’s clear that whatever Mercedes have done, it is something dramatic. Therefore, I’ll analyse according to the school of It Stands To Reason, Prof. Fred Colon emiritus. Given the fact that they’ve had similar problems with tyre wear for the past three years, with different chassis designs, and with the same FRIC suspension system, it’s not likely that the car chassis, aero or design itself has changed dramatically enough to fix the tyres. Moving from steel belted to kevlar constructions can’t be the reason either, because the 2012 construction (which is used in the new tyres) didn’t mean better tyre wear last year. Abandoning the FRIC suspension system would be a massive undertaking, creating a B spec car, certainly not something you would do mid-year and 100% not just before a massive rule change either unless your car was a dog and you needed to do testing for next year *cough* McLaren pay attention here *cough*. Furthermore, most technical experts seem to agree that the FRIC system shouldn’t produce this type of tyre wear anyway (if anything, you would think that the reduced suspension slip should alleviate it).

        With chassis, tyre and suspension ruled out, Mercedes are left dealing with one obvious problem: heat. Heat is the friend and enemy of tyres: without enough heat, they don’t work, and with too much heat they come apart. If McLaren ran a system in previous years to open channels from the brake ducts into the wheel rim to increase temperatures and get into the operating window, then it proves that the wheel rim is a good vector for heat transfer.

        So if you can move heat into the tyre using the rim, it makes sense you can move heat out. Your options are limited, however. You can’t blow the wheel rims (unless you’re very clever about it), and even if you could the airflow probably isn’t large enough to make a significant heat difference. Therefore the obvious solution is to let the heat out. The first picture on somers’ blog clearly indicates a perforated wheel rim, like a washing machine. That’s an obvious solution. But the interior of the wheel is clamped against the brake drum, so that design probably wasn’t as efficient as they wanted.

        The newer pictures clearly show a rim with multiple lips: an inner wheel rim, with a heavy lip, which must go around the brake drum. Then a black gap, and an outer lip. The only question is, what is the black gap? Putting tape there doesn’t serve any purpose in terms of sticking one thing or another so I don’t buy that it’s “just tape” and nothing else. F1 teams use electrical and duct tape extensively to blank off aerodynamics, however. So what if the wheel rim is perforated there, and the tape is to provide a semi-permeable seal? By that method, the wheel rim might be considered a constant surface but still “breathable” for heat transfer purposes. Either that, or there’s some sort of more advanced semi-permeable membrane there, or as per the initial polish blog, it really is a slot gap (which might actually allow hot exhaust gases into the rim, and probably wouldn’t be preferable).

        Their move to fully enclosed brake drums would also indicate that they’re trying to keep heat from getting into the wheel rim, and finding ways to get it out instead.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 6th August 2013, 13:50

    Whatever it is that Mercedes have planned, they had better do it quick. If history is anything to go by, Red Bull earmark the Japanese Grand Prix as the race where they turn their undivided attention to winning the championship. Mercedes are going to have to make the most of the next three races if they want to catch Red Bull, and even then, they will have their work cut out for them. The only way they really stand a chance is if they can drag the title fight out to the last two races.

  14. Vettel has another championship in the bag I feel, unless things go drastically wrong for them (which I don’t think they will!) Really looking forward to next season with all the rule changes hopefully Mclaren will just focus on next years car from now on and have an ace season in 2014! :)

  15. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 6th August 2013, 14:07

    I do think Mercedes are Red Bull’s biggest threat, but Red Bull are very strong on the Asian tracks. Red Bull may suffer at Spa and Monza, but then they should regain form. I would absolutely love Hamilton to take the fight to Vettel, but I don’t see Red Bull losing much ground. Ferrari should have two strong races at Spa and Monza, but then I expect them to continue the poor form we have seen of late. Lotus will be consistent but I don’t see either them or Ferrari challenging for either championships. I don’t understand when people say Mercedes taking points off Vettel should help Raikkonen and Alonso, because they are becoming more threatened by Hamilton than threatening Vettel.

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