Mercedes highlight the one key factor preventing them from reeling in Red Bull

Michelle Foster
Mercedes Silverstone front wing Sam Cooper photograph. Britain July 2023

Mercedes Silverstone front wing Sam Cooper photograph. Britain July 2023

As his drivers rage against Red Bull’s on-track advantage, Andrew Shovlin accepts the championship leaders found the perfect recipe as they started this year with its cost cap restraints with a “competitive car”.

So much so they don’t need to be throwing updates, and money, at it week in and week out.

The team to beat last season with their RB18 winning 17 of 22 grands prix and both championship titles, Red Bull have built on that this season with the RB19 arguably the best car to have ever lined up on a Formula 1 grid.

Andrew Shovlin concedes cost cap makes it ‘difficult’ to shut down Red Bull advantage

With 10 wins from 10 races, and Red Bull looking to break McLaren’s 1988 record streak of 11 wins in a row in Hungary this Sunday, the championship leaders have been able to maintain their advantage over the chasing pack with minimal updates.

In fact this weekend’s five-parter at the Hungaroring, which includes new-look sidepods and revised letterbox inlets, is only the team’s second notable upgrade of the season while others, such as Mercedes and McLaren, have put B-spec cars on the track.

Shovlin accepts Red Bull have got the jump on their rivals as their already competitive car means they don’t have to spend a lot of money to stay ahead.

“The way the rules are, you know, if you launch a competitive car, in a cost cap, it is quite difficult for teams to catch up,” he said.

“Because if you’ve got a competitive car, you don’t need to be throwing updates at it week in, week out. They started in a very good place.

“And the fact is our wind tunnel resource is not very different to theirs and not very different to Ferrari’s, so that initial performance advantage you start with – and it has come down over the year – but when you look at how big it was in Bahrain and Jeddah, it’s always difficult to shut that down in terms of the championship.”

A championship that sees Red Bull sitting 208 points ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ standings. recommends

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Mercedes introduced their heavily revised W14, a B-spec car if you will, to the track in Monaco and went on to bag back-to-back podiums in Spain and Canada. They were again spraying champagne at Silverstone where Lewis Hamilton finished third running an upgraded front wing.

But as that didn’t produce the gains Mercedes had hoped for, Shovlin says more upgrades will be coming, dependent on the cap of course.

“I mean, that’s what we’re working to achieve at the moment,” he said. “They’re coming, I mean, we’re trying to get them on the car as quickly as we can, which is why some of the bits were here, some were in Silverstone.

“What we’ve done on the rear wing that’s quite specific to this track. But McLaren were very quick at the last two races, so the goal is try and get ourselves ahead of them, which will put us in a good place for the fight for second.”

He added: “There’ll be track-specific elements. We look quite good in Barcelona on max downforce. And hopefully will go well here.

“But the fact is, you know, you can’t design your car for every single circuit. So you’re seeing the nature of the corner speed, whether ride is a big factor can come into it, whether it’s an overheating circuit, or one where it’s tricky to get the tyres to work, whether the balance is more oversteery, all of those things will change the relative performance.

“And then on top of that, you’ve got a pretty aggressive development race going on and you can see that with the steps that Williams made, that McLaren made, where people are bringing a lot of performance and the phasing of that is starting to juggle the order a bit.”

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