Red Bull is looking for the secret of Mercedes
Why does Mercedes outrun the strait?
GP USA 2021
Mercedes has finally pulled away from Red Bull on the straights. Losing time when driving straight ahead weakens the Milton Keynes race team. So Red Bull puts theory after theory down the hall. Finally, Mercedes lowered the rear axle at high speeds. The World Championship team doesn’t even deny it.
This is the question that worries Red Bull: Why is Mercedes gaining time again on the opposite strait since Silverstone? Sometimes an amazing amount. The racing team from Milton Keynes has yet to find a valid explanation for this. This is why Red Bull is putting up many theories and questions with the FIA, hoping to catch the bull’s attention with one of them.
The fault on the straights is surprising as there was a stage this season where Red Bull flew the Mercedes with the more powerful Honda engine. The World Championship team immediately suspected the flexible rear wing. But despite the FIA tightening up with new stress tests from the French Grand Prix, the Red Bulls were still faster. In the next two races in Austria, dark blue cars with Japanese engines destroyed their opponents. Then Mercedes fainted.
In England, the pendulum swung again in favor of the silver arrows. Red Bull suddenly realized that Mercedes had accelerated, especially when accelerating. A trick was suspected with clever cooling of the (completed) air collector behind it. An attempt at clarification at the FIA yielded nothing.
Even in the races after the summer break, Mercedes still has the upper hand when it comes to driving straight ahead. In Turkey, for example, Lewis Hamilton won the long-term qualification between the tenth and twelfth innings after about one and a half of a second over Max Verstappen. And slowly, Red Bull seems to be despairing of this supremacy. The team enthusiastically searches for an explanation, and is focused on the topic.
A new theory appeared in Austin. Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull, spoke of Mercedes lowering the rear on the straights and thus reducing aerodynamic drag at high speeds. World champions don’t even deny it. exactly the contrary. From a Mercedes warehouse they are said to have been driving with this suspension for five years. Postscript: The other teams too – except for Red Bull. At Mercedes, one wonders why the rival is thinking about it only now.
The rear suspension has been adopted since 2020
The vertical forces acting on the cars at high speeds automatically push the rear end closer to the road. With the corresponding geometry of the suspension, this effect can be intensified and can impair the function of the diffuser. This brings the maximum speed automatically. There is clearly a difference that pushes it to the limits even more than Mercedes. The FIA has no objection to this “stunt”. But there should be no active system behind it. That would be illegal. Mercedes engineers haven’t done anything about the rear suspension itself for a year. Auto smoothing changes are forbidden. Mercedes has placed its development codes in a different area.
Since Red Bull itself is not allowed to change anything in the suspension – keyword homologation – its engineers’ hands are tied. Also, it will not be easy to put it in the car all night. This requires some modifications. For example, the rear should not drop too much in fast corners, because not a little air resistance is required, but the maximum possible contact pressure. A lot of fine tuning is required on a racetrack like Silverstone with ultra-fast corners.
However, the question remains, why does Mercedes have an advantage again over the straights? Something must have happened. Red Bull is right. The defending champion denies that he has changed anything in the calibration of the turbocharged V6 engine. You drive in the same settings as at the start of the season. Instead, Mercedes attributes the increase in performance to another factor.
Mercedes lowers air resistance
“We’ve reduced the drag. We understand our car better and better,” says team leader Toto Wolff. Less drag should in fact mean that Mercedes loses in cornering. However, this has not been the case in the past few races. No matter if corners slow or fast: W12 has always been with the music.
With a better understanding, Mercedes has, according to its own statement, found a better setup for the car. Thus the silver arrow was cut for each type of curve. You can manage more and more loss absorption through cutouts in the lower chassis and rear brake ventilation. Compared to the first races of the season, the W12 is sturdier on the rear axle. Strict loose is history. “The control is much better,” says Valtteri Bottas. “The car is more stable, drivable and has better balance.”
The upgrade from Silverstone was definitely a good step forward. Since then, Mercedes has not used any new parts. On the other hand, Red Bull has equipped the RB16B with one or another update. Perhaps that was too much. In a few races, Red Bull has been noted to have difficulty preparing the car. It was completely different at the start of the season. The Challenger only had a car with a wide setup window and a small Mercedes.
The thing with the turbocharger
There is another assumption in the Silver Arrows camp. Red Bull-Honda may have also taken a small step back. It is rumored that Honda is no longer running its big turbo as it was before the summer break. Remember: the Japanese changed the specifications of the loader during the season. But how do you want fewer turbines to be discovered without the Japanese using them? Good question.
Note: This topic is not easy to understand because different interpretations and theories come from different angles. Red Bull doesn’t have much time left this season. Perhaps Verstappen should focus better on making the most of its own group at every race – and pay less attention to Mercedes. BUT: It’s business to shoot your opponent, regardless of level. This is how you create turmoil in a way. Mercedes does the same.
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