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.

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
Load comments
The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race Prime

The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race

OPINION: Max Verstappen has made the 2021 Formula 1 championship. He’s taken the fight to the all-conquering Mercedes squad and its dominant champion, produced driving displays few can match. But he’s been on a controversial course too, and finally crossed a particular line in Jeddah

Why thrilling Jeddah F1 circuit needs to be safer Prime

Why thrilling Jeddah F1 circuit needs to be safer

OPINION: Saudi Arabia's new F1 circuit delivered a memorable first event, although not necessarily for all the right reasons. In the wake of the chaotic race, drivers voiced their concerns about the track but small changes could make significant improvements ahead of a return in four months.

The long-term F1 vision causing Haas’s short-term pain Prime

The long-term F1 vision causing Haas’s short-term pain

From ranking as one of the most impressive new teams to join the Formula 1 grid, Haas’s stock has plummeted along with its on-track performances over the past two seasons. Everything now hangs on whether its reforged alliance with Ferrari can deliver a better car – and whether its rookie drivers can set aside their quarrels. Oleg Karpov asks if any of these goals are achievable…

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Prime

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Prime

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Formula 1
Dec 4, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021