#F1 Forensics:Mercedes seemingly has no opponents

Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst Lorenzo De Luca

The 2014 Monaco Grand Prix has now been consigned to the archives, and will likely be remembered more for the minor niggles between the two Mercedes drivers (first and second under the checkered flag again) rather than the race itself and any breakthrough discoveries.

Three safety cars and a battle of fast laps which were comparable to the hundredth did not prevent the Mercedes team from scoring another dominant win. What remains daunting are the gaps separating Mercedes from their opponents. With just four cars on the same lap at the finish of the race – on a short track that is both undemanding of the tyre wear and the power unit – it gave us a true indication of the level of dominance of the Mercedes W05

If, from an aerodynamic/mechanical grip point of view, Red Bull seems to have got closer, it is also important to emphasize how just the half of the Renault powered cars actually saw the chequered flag – and this on a track where the pwoer units are at full speed for a mere ten seconds..

Analyzing the race pace and the fastest laps, it is even clearer that the only concern Mercedes had after creating a large enough gap to their opposition was maintaining the gap.

Fastest Lap chart :

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Rosberg-Hamilton-Ricciardo-Alonso race pace comparison

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Rosberg vs Hamilton race pace comparison with lap times

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Hamilton vs Ricciardo race pace comparison with lap times

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Monaco is a very twisty track where downforce and traction are critical and therefore it is unsurprising seeing Mercedes and Red Bull occupy the top positions – whilst the other teams were light years away. Many teams, in an attempt to achieve more downforce with their cars added or introduced new monkey seat under the rear wings

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Red Bull closer ?

On a track like Monaco it’s easy to assume that Red Bull would have been closer, but the truth is Mercedes is still ahead, and once F1 returns to normal tracks, the gap will return to a significant gap once more.

Sector times/speed chart

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Looking at the chart above, we could see Red Bull matching Mercedes times in 3rd sector, where there are only very slow corners and short accelerations, whilst in the sectors where more power is required Mercedes is still ahead. What’s obvious is that Red Bull were aided by the significantly lower power demands of Monaco and this allowed them to be so close in performance to Mercedes, yet during the race the significant gpas were due to more efficient ERS and fuel consumption.

To thi spoint we have limited ourselves to looking at the rivalry between Mercedes and Red Bull, essentially because the other opponents are too far away to be considered real opponents. With Ferrari’s acknowledged power unit problems, their worst weakness of previous generations of the F1 cars is still present, the F14-T’s lack of traction. This combined with an abrupt power delivery, was obvious here, and the continuous corrections on the steering wheel made by both drivers proved that there is a lack of downforce at the front end.

Fuel consumption chart

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Finally FIA/FOM gaves us (even if for just three laps) some data on the fuel consumption during the race. It confirmed Red Bull to be the “thirstiest” car on the grid whereas Williams confirmed once more to be the most conservative. Significant progress has also been made by Ferrari in this area with its consumption more in line with the values of the competitors, a sure sign that the work done with Shell and on the power unit software is working well.

What to expect from Montreal

Montreal is the next race, a very fast track , with long straights and abrupt braking zones. It is very likely that we will witness another “Bahrain” and all the Mercedes powered cars (Williams and Force India most of all) will benefit from the PU106 great quality. Ferrari and Renault have already announced they will be bringing a new step of their power unit, we’ll see if this will be enough to take the role of first car behind Mercedes.

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17 responses to “#F1 Forensics:Mercedes seemingly has no opponents

  1. Was there any information released as to what caused Massa’s power unit to fail?

    • I guess you mean Bottas, there are now news related to what caused the failure, but most likey the power unit used here already had a high mileage, that’s in my opinion caused the so many failure during the race, as Monaco is perhaps the less demanding track for PU, so it was less risky to use high mileage PU here rather than elsewhere

  2. Surely Kimi’s fastest lap boxes well for ferrari’s overall performance? Hamilton and rosberg were pushing quite late into the race, so even with fuel correction, that still puts kimi well up there?

      • @CTP Kimi was on fresh supersofts, having pitted with 4 laps to go following his incident with Magnussen. So the lap time isn’t representative.

      • @CTP Kimi was on fresh supersofts,having pitted with 4 laps to go (after his incident with Magnussen). So his fastest lap isn’t really comparable – at that stage the Mercs, Ricciardo and Alonso were on harder primes about 45 laps old.

  3. Looking at it in this much detail is making me think we are not going to see anyone else win a race in 2014. Before this, I was hopeful of RB doing their usual development gain and being in contention by the post-Singapore Vettel/Tilke tracks.

    • Why not ? In my opinion (we don’t have Vettel data to confirm this) Red Bull is the most demanding car on fuel, Mclaren drivers were in fight with Hulkenberg and Raikkonen, while Ricciardo was all alone with no opponents behind him, and at this point of the race (look at chart above), he didn’t started to push to catch Hamilton yet.

      • I’m thinking the most downforce/drag means most fuel required to push the car along… RB was equal with Mercedes in S3, the non-power sector..

        • This, but obviously we have to consider the work done by the different fuel supplier just with the aim to reduce the consumption. Also what you said could be proved by Williams, which is the car with the lowest coefficient of aerodynamic resistance. Montreal will be very interesting in this sense, as the fuel consumption will be very high there 🙂

      • You may well be right – but your conclusion is not demonstrated by that chart. Perhaps the chart is just more faff?

  4. Something to always keep in mind when calculating fuel consumption, is the distance covered. Only four cars finished on the lead lap, hence only those four cars give the true fuel consumed over the race distance.
    Massa finished a lap down as did many other cars.

      • Which is still the same thing.
        They all started along the start finnish straight, but those measurements are taken when the cars are at different points on the circuit. Meaning the cars have covered varying distances.

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