Significant Mercedes fix could boost Brazilian Grand Prix chances

Uros Radovanovic
Mercedes' stacked front wings for the W14 in the pit lane.

Mercedes had a torrid time at the Brazilian GP.

Brazil is upon us, the final race of the season to be held on the South American continent.

The Interlagos track is a favorite among Formula 1 fans because it guarantees exciting races and a lot of overtaking.

Let’s delve into the technical details of this legendary circuit and have a closer look at how teams are preparing for it.

Another unique high-altitude track

Immediately after Mexico, the Brazilian circuit ranks second in terms of altitude. While not as extensive as Mexico, its 800m altitude still presents a challenge for both engineers and drivers.

The lower air density in Brazil, as was the case last weekend, affects various technical aspects that teams need to consider. In Brazil, drag won’t be as influential or problematic, which benefits teams like Mercedes and AlphaTauri, but we’ll focus on that a bit later…

The Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a short track with a slow third sector and two long straights, which are also the primary overtaking spots. However, due to its unique specifications, drivers can overtake in other places, making the race even more exciting. A shorter track also means less variation in qualifying times, giving drivers more control over their performance compared to other tracks.

It’s worth noting that the Brazilian track belongs to a category of circuits that become faster over time, which is crucial from a strategic perspective.

How are teams preparing for Brazil?

As mentioned, the lower air density significantly influences the car configurations. Teams have mostly opted for a high-downforce aero package with a heavily loaded rear wing.

In the picture above, you can see the difference between Red Bull’s and Alfa Romeo’s rear wings, which is quite significant. Red Bull is a step ahead of the other teams, and given their car’s aerodynamic efficiency, they can afford such a massive rear wing.

Also, we can expect that Red Bull has the biggest advantage when it is in the DRS zone. This does not mean that it will have the highest maximum speeds, but that the difference in speed with the DRS flap open and closed will be the largest.

On the other hand, Alfa Romeo has struggled with excessive drag this season. How serious that problem is is also shown by the picture above and their medium-downforce rear wing. Obviously, the engineers of this team have calculated that this is the best option for them in an attempt to fight for some points this weekend.

Other top teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren are following a similar path to Red Bull, relying on high-loaded rear wings to secure competitive lap times, especially in high-speed corners.

Can Mercedes secure another victory in Brazil?

When we talk about the track in Brazil, we must not forget about Mercedes. In 2021, Lewis Hamilton had one of the best races of his career here, making up 25 places over the weekend and this track is also the scene of George Russell’s first F1 win.

This type of track is quite suitable for Mercedes cars and Toto Wolff significantly said after the race in Mexico that the team has managed to solve the problem of the turbocharger, something that was bothering them a lot.

He said: “HPP has done a fantastic job over the past few years – that was always our Achilles’ heel here that the turbo didn’t breathe good enough.

“That’s sorted and it’s a strong weekend. Our power unit was like all the others.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what HPP has achieved with the power unit.”

The turbocharger is a component on a F1 engine that must be operating at an extremely high level during Mexico and Brazil.

Its task is to pump as much air as possible into the engine, in order to burn as much fuel as possible and thus obtain as much energy as possible. However, the low air density makes things more difficult in that the turbochargers have to work even harder to compensate for this loss. Solving this problem will bring Mercedes not only more power, but also less need for cooling – which always harms the aerodynamics of the car.

We must not forget AlphaTauri, who last weekend had the best result of the year. Spectacular Ricciardo was even fourth in qualifying and showed everyone that AlphaTauri’s car is not so bad after all.

Their philosophy is quite similar to Mercedes and they are another team that this configuration of track, as well as the high altitude, really suits. It will be very interesting to see if they could repeat the great result from last weekend.

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