Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Some Mercedes upgrades haven’t worked – Lauda

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In the round-up: Niki Lauda says Mercedes haven’t had success with some of the first upgrades for its W08.

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Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Are Red Bull keeping their true pace hidden?
There’s been a lot of talk about how quick Mercedes and Ferrari are but what about the other member of the ‘big three’?

This is just my speculation, but maybe Red Bull did the calculation, and maybe a couple extra moths on CFD and in the tunnel are more valuable than having a complete car in the first races. Maybe their program was to just to nail the basic shape and packaging in time for the first races and testing, and to fully understand the flow structures and what can be done, while the team back at the factory keep working on the secondary aeeo concepts aided by the new data from testing.

It’s not easy to completely change an aero concept once you go down a certain road, so they are holding back at the moment, in terms of the paraphernalia that can be seen on the car. Not for some sandbagging reason, but because they did the calculation of time/resource cost versus performance benefit in the constructors’ championship overall. And maybe they are even looking more in the long term, to have a very, very strong base understanding of these new regulations to dominate this era.

What I am saying is, that I don’t feel worried for them at all. And won’t be worried even if they are still the third to fifth or sixth-quickest car in Melbourne. And I will not be surprised when they suddenly do a massive jump up the grid a few races in.
@Mateuss

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  • 49 comments on “Some Mercedes upgrades haven’t worked – Lauda”

    1. Let’s start a game here. What do you think should happen for McLaren to say “we’re in crisis”, if the current situation isn’t worthy of the name?

      I’ll go with: there’s an immense forest fire approaching the McLaren Technology Center and all the firefighters available are using Honda-powered fire engines.

      1. I’m on a volunteer department. We switched from a Honda powered pump to Kohler… just in time!

      2. When they find out Honda misread the specifications that “designed to degrade; 2-3 stop races” wasn’t referring to engines.

      3. When they sign Jacques Villeneuve as Alonso’s replacement :O

      4. A ban on manufacturers supplying more than 3 teams? I seriously think the only thing McLaren can be optimistic about is that they could probably be able to switch back to Mercedes in the near future.

        If it’s a crisis for anyone, it’s The FIA. There is now zero hope (if there ever was any) of any new manufacturer entering F1 under the current regs; Honda were only a couple of years behind and it’s been a disaster. Mercedes and the like have already sunk hundreds of millions (billions?) into these power units – what hope does anyone else have of catching up starting at this stage?

        1. Totally agree with this!!

          Laughable situation, and Jean Todt still sprouts rubbish about relevance to keep manufacturers involved. The single thing relevant to all manufacturers is return on investment, which Formula 1 in its current state supplies little.

          It’s not worth the risk for a manufacturer to get involved, and why would you when other manufacturers have veto ans sway about how the rules are written..

          It’s absurd, the whole thing is absurd.

          1. Manufacturers want to enter to show how great they are on a technical level. Are we saying the rules are to technical and companies like Honda cannot do it? Why would Honda situation put people off? Maybe they are just rubbish and the last 25 years in motorsport points to that. (4 wheels). If others are put off thats like saying new drivers are put off becuse they see a rubbish driver on the grid. Other manufacturers should look at Merc, Renault with Red Bull and Ferrari to see you can win occasionaly and if you get it right dominate. By running scared they would be saying they are not as good with complex technology as Merc.

        2. I think you’re right, actually.

          I was thinking about this yesterday when I saw a clip of the Super Formula over in Japan.

          I’d actually imagine Honda would be relieved if F1 went back to V8/V10’s (or opened out the engine rules to allow V6-10), as they could stick a lump from the Super Formula in the back of an F1 car and try to plug away with that! Would surely be a smaller mountain to climb than their current ‘unit’…

          I think the best way of Todt saving face (because let’s face it, you’re absolutely right. Honda are a well funded, experienced team, and if they can’t get on top of this current power unit formula after 3 whole years, who will?!), is to open out the engine/power unit rules. That way, he keeps his V6’s (And to be fair, they’ve come a long, long way in 3 years), and it gives others a chance to use slightly older technology that they’re either a) more familiar with, b) is more cost effective, or c) have had previous experience with.

          Surely a win-win?

          1. It’s also a fairly straightforward way of allowing more privateers. Give them a simple V8 or V10 lump which will get them there or there abouts, rather than having to throw a ton of money on a power unit that’s seemingly difficult to get your head round.

            I’m sure the likes of Mercedes would like to stick with their V6’s and promote themselves as being energy efficient, but this doesn’t matter to a privateer.

            I’d love to see it.

        3. I think Honda needs to take some of the blame. From what I read from an interview with Hasegawa, they had a completely different team working on the 2017 engine– and it shows. None of the lessons learned from the 2015 and 2016 power unit appear to have made it into the 2017 PU, so Honda is, at best, back at the start of 2016.

          Ferrari, on the other hand, appears to have done a pretty good job catching up with Mercedes at least on power, if not efficiency (we won’t know that until one of the longer, faster tracks).

          Renault appears to be focused on reliability, and admitting that they’re probably going to be 30hp down on Ferrari / Mercedes, and I suspect that’s why the RB13 is so streamlined– Newey as much as admitted in interviews that the RB13 is a “low drag” concept at the moment to compensate for a lack of HP on the straights.

          Can’t wait to see the Williams at Montreal and Monza, though– it also appears to be a low drag design, and has the monster Mercedes PU.

      5. When they say they have a semantics problem, not a crisis.

      6. When they get shot of credible man power and start pointing fingersof who’s to blame..

      7. When Mclaren sign Honda as an engine supplier to their road cars as well.

      8. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
        10th March 2017, 7:02

        When they need to change the engine in their simulator car…

        1. Hahaha +1

      9. When they replace Honda with an gp2 engine….

      10. It’s the football board’s assurance. Half-expecting heads to roll during the next 6 weeks if nothing changes.

      11. @fer-no65 Don’t worry, their saying that they’re in crisis is imminent

      12. When someone asks Ron Dennis and he calls it a crisis rather than an unanticipated paradigm degradation.

    2. Everyday, I keep telling myself not to get drawn into the Mclaren-Honda “non-crisis”, but its like the Trump presidency, its so pathetic you cant look away!

      Honda aren’t going anywhere, crisis or not. The financial implications are far reaching for both Mclaren and Honda.

      Mclaren are still operating like a “big” works team, which means they’ve got massive overheads. Honda foots a fair chunk of that for sure. If Honda decide to walk away, not only would it be a massive loss of face (a big a thing in Japan if you havent known) and a massive knock on their reputation, they’d have to pay Mclaren off as well.

      At this point in time, they dont have much choice but to stay together.

      1. It’s true that Honda pays for a lot of the bills around at Mclaren. From what I heard they pay half the drivers salaries, $25 million in sponsorship and free engines cost, but surely, the loss of revenue from Mclaren getting 150 points lesser than they should every season will also have financial implications. Not to mention how unattractive Mclaren has become to potential sponsors and how key personnel have left the team due to non performance.

        If Honda decides to honour their contract up until 2024, Mclaren would have turned from a front running team with a legacy to F1’s new eternal back marker. Surely, the financial implications and losses originating from this partnership could have far deeper consequences than just meet the eye.

        Mclaren’s only hope is that Honda do not honour the contract and leave the sport, and consequently, have to pay Mclaren off in the bargain.

        And Mr.Brown… This is a full blown crisis. If you fail to recognise it as a crisis…. I doubt you’ll be keeping your job much longer.

        1. Its not yet a crises, they just need two more weeks for confirmation.

        2. I’m not sure Mr. Brown is allowed to call it a crisis; in Honda’s understated culture, a crisis is basically defined as something that is completely unfixable and none of whose consequences cannot be dodged. At least some of the problem is fixable, the worst of the consequences can be at least partly avoided if proper actions are taken now, therefore a term softer than “crisis” has to be used – especially in public. Unless you name is Fernando Alonso – he has enough freedom of action, due to the demand he would be in if a free agent at the correct time, to not be bound the same way in his language.

      2. the saving face thing is kind off a cliche that is no longer true, in business money talks, also in japan. The saving face is somewhat there but mainly results in awkward ways to apologise.

        Honda and Toyota already left F1 before without any decent results, they even left a winning car behind.

        I do not believe the rules are impossible, Mercedes obviously found the right setup as a team to produce a great engine, but renault did it, so others can too, i hope we learn later how Honda screwed up like this in 2015 and 2017.

        Its pretty sad that McLaren is wasting Vandoorne his career on this Honda, i understand most people feel for Alonso, but what will happen to Vandoorne if he is a back marker for a few years?

    3. Is it a semi-crisis then Zak?

      It was a stupid question but none the less. Zak Brown is a snake oil salesman through and through. And he looks like Mayor Quimby! I can’t believe Mclaren fell for his shtick…

      1. Zak is hoping this doesn’t escalate into a credibility crisis. That sort of crisis can put a critical damper on snake oil sales.

      2. The “non-crisis” was created by the previous regime at McLaren.
        For starters, had McLaren allowed Honda to supply another team, so much more to be gained. This years problems could possibly have been avoided or at least minimized.

    4. Incredible COTD! That makes a lot of sense.

    5. “We have problems, clearly we have problems… but ‘crisis’ is a bit strong.”
      “‘crisis’ is a bit strong… correct, but a bit strong.” ;)

    6. Merc is lacking confidence thats certain. speed i doubt. Yesterday i said the merc was not full throttle at 9. Now karun says the same. Do you believe me now?
      Its clear that at the moment mercedes have some work to do to understand their car. Looks quick but on both onboards and according to gary anderson and karun its understeering. rbs concede they have some work to do but the platform is right. Ferrari dont look overconfident either and they shiuld not. Development is not their strenght

      1. Just look up testing in the previous 3 years @peartree. When have Mercedes not hyped up either Red Bull or Ferrari and even Williams and predicted it wouldn’t be easy as for them this year?

        Last year Ferrari also were quickest in testing. And they even looked like posing a challenge in the first race. Until they threw what later proved to be one of their sole 2 chances, away with a stupid strategy desicion.

        1. @bascb Yes, indeed but Wolf and Lewis did so whilst trying not to smile. Ferrari looked quick but not like this, it looked close. As you’ve said Ferrari should’ve won a couple races. Curiously today Bottas said the Mercedes needed some work to “extract the potential”. Last year after testing, we were clinging on to the chance that someone could be closer to Mercedes, this year we’re on denial that the times look so close on the top 3.

          1. But last year Mercedes also mentioned that they weren’t quite there yet. Just like this year. Off course the engine issues showed they might not have just been dodging, but I wouldn’t put too much on Ferrari for even a race win yet.

    7. Here’s to hoping Haas gets their brakes sorted out. I was quite honestly surprised when I read somewhere last week that they were still having brake issues. Especially when if I remember correctly they tested Carbone Industry brakes last year and saw an improvement, but yet seemed to have dropped the ball and not gathered supply to at least test them in testing, or switch altogether. Im sure its not as easy as it seems from the outside looking in, but its disappointing as I would really like to see them be consistent.

      1. I suspect Brembo are trying to save face with Haas. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a financial incentive for the team to stay with them along with a promise of improvement. That promise (if exists) has failed to materialise so the team will likely switch. I can’t think of another reason as to why Haas would stick with Brembo after a season full of brake problems and failures.

        1. Brembo does a great job with other topteams. So it seems Haas is part of the problem.
          (think about brake cooling, used materials in brakecalipers etc..)

        2. @tonyyeb
          I’ve heard from people that visited Brembo in 2016 saw lots of Haas signs and logos around so i guess there was some kind of big relationship so i guess that explains the not so quick decision to just go to a competitor supplier.

    8. “But we’ve been given assurances that they [Honda] will do everything they can to give us the best possible power unit. We know what the issues are and we know how to address them. We are seeing improvements every day and that’s what is most important. They’re on it.”

      Maybe Zak Brown didn’t get the memo where they talk about Honda being unable to identify the problems, hence they are unable to address them and make any improvements.

      1. I guess this is a bit of a “devil’s advocate” question, but has the space allocated to the engine and the necessary paraphernalia in the MCL32 actually big enough to accommodate an appropriately sized exhaust turbine, decent air intake turbine, and a “more than adequate” MGU-H (and especially a bigger generator)? If that hasn’t happened, then one can argue the problem isn’t so much the Honda engine as the lack of space necessary for Honda to fit the necessary bits and pieces, which is McLaren’s problem.

        1. By no means do Mclaren have the tightest packaging this year. They are far behind Ferrari , Red Bull and even Mercedes. That excuse could have worked in 2015, but not in 2017.

    9. RE COTD, maybe. I think Red Bull’s biggest factor is they only finished the car so late. Some teams already had their car ready a week before the first test. Red Bull a few hours. So naturally their first few days were spent more on basics than others. Naturally this could pay dividends. Or not. I think their Base package is excellent, as it’s described by those trackside, but will need refining to go toe to toe with Mercedes and especially Ferrari, who seem to have the winning ticket.

      1. In 2014, they had a very bad test with only about 200 laps completed, but, still managed to be 2nd best in season. One thing I have learned about Red Bull, is their test performance and car isn’t their race performance.

    10. Bernie’s surprise party looks…. petrifying!!! What an image.

    11. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      10th March 2017, 10:04

      That COTD is so speculative and doesn’t really make much sense. A WCC team does not take a few races to trial aero bits on a computer back in MK, they introduce them as and when they can and they, you know, aim for the WCC.

      1. That’s correct mate. Are the others not working on aero as well back at the factory using the data gathered on track?

      2. @ Fudge Kobayashi

        fully agree

    12. No wonder, Ferraris will be definitely ahead of Mercedes this year.Unlike last year, this year Ferraris have hit the nail in the head.

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