British GP: How are Mercedes Suddenly Faster on the Straights than Red Bull After Austria F1 Struggles?

Published 07/18/2021, 7:35 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 17, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Peter Cziborra


Mercedes have been the talk of the town at Silverstone. The team are facing immense pressure from Red Bull and being pushed to better themselves. The Silver Arrows have been complaining about problems in the car, which seem to have disappeared at the British Grand Prix. Even though Max Verstappen grabbed pole position at the sprint, Mercedes paced fastest during the qualifying.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Toto Wolff’s comments during the last two races in Austria suggested major “developments” to the car. This got lost in translation, as drivers were also being coy about the size of the update. In Great Britain, the car has had some visible upgrades to its floor and bargeboard, but nothing too big.

That being said, the W12 showed a better pace during Friday’s qualifying.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Mercedes has had a drop in performance. Lewis Hamilton, robbed of the first spot during the sprint, despite pushing hard, was 2.5s behind Verstappen. He inquired, “I’m giving it everything- any chance of more power?” His question was met with silence on the radio.

So, are their speculated updates enough to battle the Charging Bulls?

What are the Mercedes upgrades?

The 2021 aerodynamic regulations displeased Mercedes from the start. These made the outside of the car floor narrower and led to no slots, narrower rear brake ducts, and shortening rear diffuser strakes. Over the last races, Mercedes have had a lack of straight-line speed – which became their biggest obstacle.

The Silverstone upgrades comprise changes around the bargeboards and the underfloor in hopes to enhance aerodynamic performance in the car’s rear. This improved their overall performance on the track, as making the front corner of the floor work better means that extra leakage under the sides of the floor of the rears is not a problem anymore.

A result of these improvements was that Mercedes unfolded another area – where the enhanced performance really came from. This was the chance to run a less aggressive rear wing.

Is it helping?

Now, the Silver Arrows show better pace on the straights than Red Bull. This results from the changes made affecting the drag and downforce of the machine.

Mercedes have reduced drag while maintaining the car’s downforce by making proportional adjustments to the rear wing and the underbody of the car; this has allowed them to go around 3km/hr faster on the straights.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 17, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during sprint qualifying REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

Red Bull’s rear wing, one abhorred by Mercedes, is still more efficient. So, the German outfit still have a few steps to take before reaching the same level of optimization to run successfully.

Mercedes’ rush for the changes shows how much effort they are putting in to regain their advantage in the championship. Will it work? The changes made were pretty fundamental, and probably just a quick fix. After the upcoming race, we can see if the changes made have worked, or if Max Verstappen is simply too fast for the Silver Arrows.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Watch this story: Lewis Hamilton’s Biggest F1 Crashes

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Shreya Sanjeev

101 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT