Red Bull surprised at "significant" Mercedes F1 power boost

Red Bull says a "surprising" engine power step from Mercedes has left it struggling for answers about how best to stop its Formula 1 title rival pulling clear.

Listen to this article

In the wake of Max Verstappen having no answer for the pace of Valtteri Bottas in the Turkish Grand Prix, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner thinks that the competitive picture between the two F1 title rivals has shifted in recent weeks.

Whereas Red Bull appeared to hold a pace advantage heading in to the summer break, he believes that the arrival of Mercedes' latest specification of engines at Spa has boosted the German car manufacturers' straightline speed.

And, while previously Red Bull could counter any top speed advantage from Mercedes by running a lower downforce configuration, now Horner says the gap between the two teams is too big to be able to do that.

Proof of that came in the way that Lewis Hamilton was able to draft past Sergio Perez on the back straight in Turkey at one point in the race, despite running a higher downforce rear wing.

"Their straightline speed has taken a significant step recently, and I think that whereas we could match them with smaller wings previously, now we can't get near," said Horner when asked by Motorsport.com about where Mercedes' current advantage came from.

"We saw that particularly at this circuit, where Lewis in particular had a significant straightline advantage with a bigger rear wing of the car.

"We've got to maximise our package as best we can. And, as I say, it's surprising that they've made the step that they have with the power unit."

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes has been battling engine reliability concerns with its older power units, but the introduction of fresh components recently for Bottas and Hamilton has helped ease much of its worries.

The nature of the current long-life engines also means that they deliver more power when they are new, with a steady performance degradation over the course of their running.

The advantage that Mercedes had in Turkey bodes well for its prospects in the next race at the United States Grand Prix, with high altitude venues Mexico and Brazil after that likely to favour Red Bull.

For Horner, the current situation is too close to call, and that means his outfit cannot afford to let any opportunities slip through its fingers.

"We know the next race in Austin has been a Hamilton stronghold for quite a few years," he said. "But then Mexico and Brazil, hopefully higher altitude races tended to be quite strong for us in the past. Then I'm really not sure what to expect from the last three.

"It's going to be fascinating, but you know we are going to have to be at the very top of our game.

"We've managed to extract the maximum that we possibly could here [in Turkey], with great execution in the pit stops, and good strategy. So that was positive. But certainly this venue has been strong for Mercedes on outright pace."

shares
comments
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory
Previous article

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Next article

F1 set to trial system of deleting yellow flag laptimes

F1 set to trial system of deleting yellow flag laptimes
Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull Prime

Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull

The 2022 Formula 1 season was Mercedes' leanest for a decade, achieving just a solitary pole and grand prix win. Yet the team is confident it has got the tools it needs to cast that disappointment aside and return to the front of the field again next year.

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Prime

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments.

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Prime

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1.

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Prime

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Prime

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022