Mercedes past caring about Red Bull’s straight-line speed talk

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes and Red Bull battle at the Qatar GP. November 2021.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, battling at the Qatar Grand Prix. November 2021.

Mercedes’ “abnormal” straight-line performance should be history, say Red Bull – but Mercedes are finished giving energy to the talk.

In recent rounds, Red Bull and Mercedes have been at each other’s throats again off track, this time relating to Mercedes’ mighty speed down the straights.

Red Bull have focused on the rear wing, believing it was flexing to reduce drag and provide a boost, with the FIA then announcing new rear wing tests would come into play.

Then at the Qatar Grand Prix, Red Bull claimed Mercedes’ straight-line pace had now fallen in line with theirs – and so with these tests in place, their team principal Christian Horner is confident this particular advantage for Mercedes is gone for good.

Lewis Hamilton on his way to the grid. Austin October 2021
Mercedes mechanics push Lewis Hamilton's W12 onto the grid. Austin October 2021

“I think what we’ve seen in recent races is an abnormal straight-line speed,” Horner is quoted as saying by Autosport.

“I think Toto [Wolff, Mercedes principal] has been at pains to point out there have been gains in straight-line speed when nothing has changed. But it’s encouraging Qatar was the first race since before Silverstone we were able to match their straight-line speed and an exponential increase in races.

“I think I’m glad to see it’s being well policed. I’m confident the tests that have been introduced should eradicate any ability to circumnavigate.”

However, Wolff does not believe anything has changed due to these tests, instead arguing the high-downforce nature of Qatar’s Losail International Circuit brought the teams closer together for straight-line speed.

But either way, while Wolff is braced for further “comments” from Red Bull at the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign and the Mercedes-Red Bull title battle – he and the Mercedes team are past the point of wanting to get involved.


“Have they shown some data or photographs about the straight-line performance? Qatar is a less power-sensitive track and interestingly, I think they (Red Bull) have just done a good job – their straight-line speed with the big wing (high downforce) was identical to ours,” said Wolff when asked for a response to Red Bull’s claims.

“So yeah, I’m happy that they are happy.

“Let’s go to Saudi Arabia and maybe we’ll hear some comments again. In a way, the debates that are being kicked off or launched, I cannot follow anymore.

“I have taken the decision for myself and the team that we are struggling to keep up with commenting on the rumours being made from that side.”


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