Mercedes ‘reassured’ by pace in battling Red Bull

Date published: October 15 2021 - Henry Valantine

Sergio Perez defends from the pit entry against Lewis Hamilton. Turkey, October 2021.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says the team are “reassured” that they’ve been able to out-pace Red Bull of late.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both out-qualified Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Turkey, with Bottas keeping Verstappen comfortably at arm’s length throughout the race to take victory in the damp conditions at Istanbul Park.

With Mercedes having seemingly got themselves at least onto a level playing field with their rivals’ car performance, or even moved ahead, the team say that bodes well for the final races of the year.

“We’ve had another good run of form in the dry, we’ve shown good pace here in the wet and it looks like a car that can win championships,” Shovlin said after the Turkish Grand Prix.

“If you go back to the early part of the year there’s decisions that we’re trying to take on development, trying to balance the two years, one of our worries was that at this end of the year are we still going to be able to stick the car on pole to get a front row lockout to control a race?

“It’s really reassuring that we’re now getting into the last six that we’ve shown we’ve got a package that can out-qualify them on a Saturday and out-race them on a Sunday.”

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Red Bull have complained about the apparent increased power of Mercedes’ engine in recent races, with Helmut Marko claiming their car looks as though it’s permanently driving with DRS open, such is their straight-line speed advantage.

But regarding the next race in Austin, the jury is out as to how the teams will match up. However, given Hamilton’s five previous victories at the Circuit of the Americas, on one of his favourite tracks, it’s likely that the Briton will head in as the pre-race favourite for victory.

However, the Mercedes engineer is not quite so sure.

“It’s hard to say,” said Shovlin, quoted by The Race. “We’ve got to go to all these races looking at what’s going to catch us out, not what’s going to be great and easy for us and it isn’t really, we don’t really take that kind of approach.

 

“It’s just a case of looking at all the data that’s coming off the simulations, working what we need to do with the car.

“It’s a very different tarmac there, but it’s a circuit that Lewis has been very strong at. It’s a track where there’s good overtaking opportunity.

“There’s degradation so that changes the dynamic of the race a little bit, but there’s no reason to think we shouldn’t be strong in Austin, but we did good preparation coming here and the car’s been in the right window and that’s the thing we need to make sure we do correctly for the next race.”