Red Bull Racing’s consultant Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner insist Mercedes still enjoy a healthy margin over the other three engine manufacturers which makes them invincible.
Heads were scratching to find out the true pecking order in 2018 before the qualifying session. Mercedes were tipped to have carried its dominant form over for the new championship campaign which proved to be the case in today’s qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton secured the pole position with an advantage of a whopping seven tenth over the second-placed Kimi Räikkönen. As Mercedes stood out during pre-season testing in Barcelona with its fuel consumption, it will be a hard task for Red Bull and Ferrari to bridge that gap.
Mercedes' power unit is the leading force in every area: fuel consumption, peak power, recuperation, reliability and driveability. The peak power advantage is not always visible looking at the speed traps because the team often uses that extra power boost for steeper wing levels, adding extra downforce.
When asked to assess the situation, team boss Christian Horner sounded pessimistic.
"I think we’re closer to them in the race. In qualifying Mercedes can turn up the power and we’re powerless against that,” said the Briton.
Dr Helmut Marko estimates that Mercedes’ qualifying mode which was named ‘party mode’ by Lewis Hamilton is worth three-four tenths depending on the track characteristics.
"In qualifying we’re three, four tenths behind. But more importantly, we’re good in the long runs. They have their special qualifying mode for the engine and they win three or four tenths when they turn it on.”
"Even in race trim they have 30hp more, with better fuel consumption and they start with 15kg less fuel. That’s about three tenths per lap," said Marko.