Mercedes: ‘More than just speed’ that will decide titles

Date published: October 16 2021 - Mark Scott

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas leads Turkish Grand Prix for Mercedes. Istanbul October 2021

Mercedes technical director, James Allison, has said it will not solely be down to engine power that decides where the silverware will end up going this season.

Red Bull have been drawing further attention to Mercedes’ engine in recent races, saying that the Silver Arrows have unlocked so much power since Silverstone that it feels like the W12 is racing with the DRS continuously open.

But Allison has played down the significance of how much said engine power will ultimately decide the season between Mercedes and Red Bull, and started his explanation by saying the Turkish Grand Prix is not going to be a good outlier for what to expect in the final six races anyway.

“I think it is difficult to take Turkey as a sort of yardstick for what we can expect from the rest of the season,” Allison said in Mercedes’ Turkey debrief.

“It was a very strong weekend, we were looking good all the way through, dry, wet, Free Practice, Qualifying, Race, we were strong.

“One of our engineers this weekend spoke about the tyres as being in a sort of goldilocks place, not too hot, not too cold on an asphalt that is particularly picky, and we knew that we were very strong but we also knew that the margins between this strength and being more average were quite slender.

“A few degrees here or there and we could have been out to the goldilocks zone on the hot or the cold side.

“So, it was a very good performance, the car was very well balanced, we didn’t seem to suffer as much from the understeer that was fairly prevalent up and down the pit lane. But I don’t think you could read that automatically into the races to come.”

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A better judgment, Allison says, can be made from the British Grand Prix onwards as to just how strong Mercedes currently are heading into the last leg of the season.

He added: “I think probably a better read would be to say, well, let’s look back at the last six or so. In Silverstone we put a decent upgrade package on our car, and it has sort of made our season a happier place.

“In the races since then, I think there has only been one where we were comprehensively beaten and that was Zandvoort.

“On the others I think arguably we have shaded it with the quickest car and in a couple of places like Istanbul, Sochi we were proper good, Monza too, good as well.

“So, on average I think we have shaded it but in most of those places where we have been the quicker car, it has been more of a sort of coin toss than a sort of guarantee.”

Allison would not go as far to say Mercedes are favourites for both World Championship titles now and mentioned the engine power as part of his current assessment of the title picture.

“What I think that means is that we at least are in the fight,” Allison continued.

“We are enjoying as we said to each other at the beginning of this season, we are enjoying the hunt for this title, because that’s what it has felt like ever since winter testing.

“We are trying to hunt down this title. You know, if we can work well with our car over the races to come, we have something that does look competitive enough to be in that fight.

“There is more than just speed that will determine the outcome of these races though, as the last several have shown us.

“There is reliability, there is pit stops, there is weather, there is the whole gamut of things that is the sort of excitement of an F1 race, and we have to perform well in all of those.

“But we are in with a fighting chance. It’s a thrilling season and these last few races should make this a season that will be thought of for many years to come as one of the classics in F1.”