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Red Bull wary of "surprising" Mercedes pace

NEWS STORY
11/10/2021

Christian Horner and Max Verstappen have expressed "surprise" at the increased pace of the Mercedes in Turkey.

Easily out-pacing the Red Bulls in both sessions on Friday, it was only when conditions took a turn for the worse that the Austrian team began to close the gap.

Indeed, based on Friday's pace, and that shown in qualifying, it was only Lewis Hamilton's 10-place grid penalty that prevented the team scoring a 1-2 on Sunday.

Prior to Turkey, as recently as Sochi, Mercedes had been pointing to Red Bull as having the faster car, but following Sunday's Grand Prix, Christian Horner and Max Verstappen admitted surprise at the W12's increased pace.

Their straight-line speed has taken a significant step recently," said Horner, "and I think that whereas we could match them with smaller wings previously, now we can't get near.

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

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

Horner suggests that reliability issues with the Mercedes power unit may have given the impression that performance has been affected.

"You can see across all their teams that Mercedes obviously have some reliability issues they are managing, which is unusual for Mercedes," he said. "But their performance is still incredibly impressive.

"Whether one comes at the expense of the other, I don't know," he admitted, "but if you look at some of the speed deltas on the back straight at some points it was 15-20km/h, which is more than if there had been DRS.

"We know the next race in Austin has been a Hamilton stronghold for quite a few years," he added. "But then Mexico and Brazil, hopefully higher altitude races tended to be quite strong for us in the past.

"I'm really not sure what to expect from the last three," he admitted. "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, 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."

"We need to find more pace because six points is nothing," said Verstappen. "I wish l had more pace. It's going to be tough," he told Sky Sports.

"In the last few races, they have picked up the pace," he added. "But we won't give up and hopefully in some of the next tracks it will be better for us."

Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes is focussed on the trade-off between reliability and performance.

"When you start to push the boundaries with power-unit performance, at a certain stage you will experience some obstacles," he said. "Our power-units have been the most reliable since the introduction of the hybrid engine in 2014, and and because the boundaries are being pushed we have seen examples of, let's say, unusual noises within the combustion engine that aren't completely understood at that stage yet.

"They caused some troubles in the past; we had some engines that basically failed and now it's about containing the problem because changing parts is not something you would tackle."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.

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1. Posted by Great_white_shark, 12/10/2021 18:24

"When Honda suddenly found more power it was just Toto moaning because he lost the advantage but when Red Bull seem to have lost their straight line speed advantage (curiously) then the FIA must be in cahoots with Mercedes. It is fascinating how certain "fans" can disregard logic completely to suit their narrative. You think the sport want Mercedes to win everything for 10 years in a row? You think they believe that is good for the sport? Explain why they changed they rules to reshuffle the pecking order if they wanted to give titles to Mercedes. Poorly thought-out excuses, nothing more and nothing less "

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2. Posted by NS Biker, 12/10/2021 14:34

"Not completely sure that there is a total engine freeze in place yet.
Some of the recent Power Unit changes and resulting penalties have been done to get improvements in place before the freeze really kicks in.
Over the last few "Freeze Periods" there were a number of reliability based upgrades that, strangely enough, also resulted in performance improvements.
In the current Mercedes upgrades, it is interesting that the customer teams, AM, Williams, McLaren are not showing signs of the boost in performance. Curious."

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3. Posted by Stitch431, 12/10/2021 13:03

"I meant reliability. I'm pretty sure this FIA, having displayed already two times dubious in-season adaptations of the rules in favor of Mercedes, will not properly check in on this before the end of the season ..."

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4. Posted by Stitch431, 12/10/2021 13:00

"Aha, a trade-off between reliability and engine performance. But how did they get more performance out of the car during an engine freeze, where the only modifications allowed are the ones that help improve safety? "

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