What a difference a few months can make and turn the so called experts around the F1 world to absolute stooges. The Mercedes W10 is being hailed as the best car on the grid and by quite a margin and is being termed as the BEST CONCEPT to the new regulations. Not long ago, it was clearly proclaimed that Mercedes has got it wrong and was in crisis.
https://www.auto-motor-und-sport.de/for ... t-vorteil/
16.05.2019 MICHAEL SCHMIDT wrote:The Grand Prix of Spain has shown why Mercedes is so superior. The defending champion has read the rules better and put on the right concept. Ferrari and Red Bull have built the wrong cars.
The fifth Mercedes double victory plunges Formula One into a deep depression. Never before has the advantage been so great. And it is becoming increasingly clear that Mercedes will keep this lead with a few exceptions for a long time. Because the defending champion has put on the better concept.
Barcelona has mercilessly uncovered what previously hinted. The layout of the Circuit de Catalunya shows the strengths and weaknesses of each car as under a magnifying glass. To bring all GPS analysis to a common denominator: Mercedes was again slow on the straights and fast in the corners. Because there are so many corners, the lead was correspondingly large.
Ferrari won half a second on the two straights and lost 1.3 seconds in the 16 corners. 7 tenths of it alone in the seven corners of the last sector. Red Bull Honda was 2 tenths slower on the straights than Mercedes and 7 tenths as Ferrari. In the corners, Red Bull left 7 tenths on Mercedes, but made up 6 tenths on Ferrari. The criterion was also the last sector here. Mercedes missed 0.444 seconds. For this one took Ferrari 0.289 seconds.
In the race, the distances increase. Without the safety car, Max Verstappen would finish in mathematical terms, 23 seconds back and Sebastian Vettel with 38 seconds. It took Lewis Hamilton at the top according to statements of Mercedes engineers still comfortable.
The tire image revealed another bitter truth. The Mercedes would have been the only car that would have made a one-stop race at full race pace. Ferrari and Red Bull should have changed twice in full attack because of high wear tires.
Downforce at the expense of air resistance
The speed profile of the three cars reveals the secret of the Mercedes: downforce, and nothing but downforce. That would not be a surprising finding, if you did not know how Mercedes scored the downforce. This year to a large extent at the expense of more drag. Mercedes can not care on most routes how much time they lose on the straights. Because they win the time twice and three times in the turns.
The incredible speed of the Ferrari in the full-throttle passages has only marginally to do with the better engine performance or more efficient energy management. The course of Barcelona is in the ranking of importance of the engine performance for the lap time only on rank 16. So it is mainly the higher air resistance, which makes the difference on the straights.
Mercedes has deliberately gone this way, an engineer tells us: "The fuel limit was raised from 105 to 110 kilograms. That was also a gift to the aerodynamics. They were able to pack down and sacrifice efficiency. "
Ferrari and Red Bull, on the other hand, have built super-efficient cars. At Red Bull it's in the engineers' minds. They were five years long, one must compensate for the PS deficit of the Renault engine through small wings, but more employment of the car. Now you are with Honda only 30 hp behind Mercedes, but has less downforce. And already the chassis is in the criticism.
Ferrari swung with the introduction of wide cars on the Red Bull line. That worked well for two years. Until the summer break Ferrari was both a title candidate. Then you lost the World Cup because of individual mistakes, not because of the poorer vehicle concept.
The three trump cards of Mercedes
But in 2019, three things have changed fundamentally. And they question the philosophy of total aerodynamic efficiency. First, the increase of the fuel limit. Second, the new front wing. Third, the 2019 Pirelli tires.
The simpler front wing favors the aerodynamic philosophy of the Mercedes. The sets to length instead of a large angle. The Mercedes W10 is between the wheels by 7.9 inches longer than the Red Bull RB15 and 4.5 inches as the Ferrari SF90. For the Mercedes is behind about 41 millimeters less high in the springs than the Red Bull and 23 millimeters less than the Ferrari.
When cornering, the new front wing no longer allows engineers to directly attack the air turbulence created on the front wheels that have been hit. That has to happen right behind it. Mercedes has due to the length of the vehicle more space between the front wheels and the side boxes accommodate baffles to calm the flow to the rear.
It can be seen with the naked eye that the flow straighteners in this area are much more complex in the Mercedes than in the competition cars. So the new aerodynamic rules have done Mercedes a favor.
And now comes the most important point. And these are the new Pirelli tires. Mercedes has obviously pulled the right conclusions from the Abu Dhabi test last December. A stiffer carcass means that the tire gets worse from the inside. A thinner tread causes the heat to be worse in the tire. Therefore, the tire window slid up.
How do you manage to get temperature in the tires on critical tracks with slow corners and smooth asphalt (Melbourne, Baku)? By downforce. How do you ensure that on fast tracks (Barcelona) the tire does not overshoot the target? By downforce.
An engineer tells us: "Ferrari and Red Bull slip so much in the first two sectors in Barcelona that they drive into the third sector with too hot a surface. When Mercedes, the tires are still in the window. So you win twice in the last sector. Through more contact pressure and more grip from the tire. "
In the slow corners, there is a third factor: the mechanical grip. Mercedes has worked massively on the suspensions over the winter. The Silver Arrow not only follows an idiosyncratic aerodynamic concept, it also has a very special geometry of the front axle. Only the front suspension of McLaren has a similar characteristic.
The comparison between Ferrari and its customer team Haas shows that the Mercedes trick tricks out the Ferrari philosophy. Engine and chassis are more or less identical. The only difference between the two cars is the aerodynamics.
Like Mercedes, Haas relies on downforce, also at the expense of air resistance. GPS comparisons in Barcelona have shown: The US Ferrari loses on the straights on the factory car 7 km / h. But he is faster in most corners than the red sister car.
Advantage through wise politics
Mercedes has already won the title race in the development phase of the W10. Because the engineers have read the new rules and new Pirelli tires correctly. Maybe also because they have been actively involved in changing tires and rules in their favor.
It was Mercedes who advised Pirelli last year to reduce tread on the critical tracks. If the Silver Arrows have had a problem in the last five years, then the tires tend to overheat.
Mercedes was also among the six teams that voted for the new aerodynamic rules. By the way, Ferrari too. Red Bull was against it. For good reason. And Mercedes has not vetoed when the fuel limit was raised. Although that was actually against their interests.
The Mercedes V6 Turbo is the most economical engine in the field. But the advantage that you give up when it comes to fuel consumption, turned out to be less than the advantage that one wins in aerodynamics. Provided you draw the right conclusions.
Now the question arises, why the superiority of Mercedes has not yet shown in the winter tests in Barcelona. Most will reflexively say Mercedes has bluffed. In fact, it was probably different. In the first week of testing drove only a half new W10. He was not a standard. In the second week Mercedes took three and a half days to understand the car.
The confusion was so great that at short notice even his own front wing concept in question. Only on the last day of testing did the engineers find the settings to work with the retreaded car. The speed in the slow corners was good from the start. In the fast corners, the rear proved to be unstable. With that Mercedes lost too much in the first two sectors.
One of the tricks of solving the problem was said to have been to raise the car's angle of attack this afternoon. Team principal Toto Wolff reveals an interesting detail: "We thought the correlation between wind tunnel and track was not correct. In the end, we tuned the car against all the suggestions of our simulation tools. And it worked."
Ferrari's supposed luck in the test drives was that you found the perfect setup for the car from scratch. And that the temperatures stayed relatively cool for a long time. That helped the tire. The last day of testing was the warmest. As the problems in sector 3 already indicated. But apparently there were no alarm bells ringing in Maranello.
Only six tracks fall into the Ferrari profile
This does not bode well for the future. Mercedes can build on the better platform. That's why the upgrades work better than the competition. Ferrari and Red Bull are virtually tied hands. They will only take a big step forward if they change the concept of their cars. But that takes time.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto slowed down the pessimists: "If the concept really is to blame, it depends on which part of the concept. That determines how fast we can react. "
At first glance, it seems that Red Bull has the simpler work ahead of Ferrari. After all, it's not easy to mount a steep wing in the rear, which then delivers any downforce. The whole thing has to be balanced in front. And there are limits to the engineers because of the new front wing.
After all, Red Bull has a wing concept like Mercedes. Ferrari went the other way. But it is not so easy to copy the wing of the competition. The aerodynamics are so complex that you really have to change everything from front to back.
Bange Question: Will Mercedes win every race now? Not necessarily. There are a few routes on the calendar where the Ferrari SF90 could be the better car. Because there the portion of the curves is smaller than the proportion of the straight lines.
Bahrain was such a case. Montreal, the Red Bull Ring, Spa, Monza and Sochi could also fall into the profile of the Ferrari. But to actually win, there are other parameters that need to be taken into account: the type of asphalt, the temperatures and the tire options of Pirelli.