Brought to you by TheJudge13 technical analyst: Lorenzo De Luca
PU106A parade in Sochi
The first Russian GP witnessed another dominant weekend from the Mercedes duo – with Rosberg’s comeback drive from the back of the field to finish in second position – merely 14 seconds from the winner, Hamilton, explains far better than any words – the gap that actually exists between the team from Stuttgart and the rest of the field. On a side note almost every car fitted with the PU106A Hybrid demonstrated very good performances in comparison to the opposition.
Mercedes PU106A Hybrid :
And here it is the PU106A, the star of the season so far, with a very neat installation
Mercedes PU106A Hybrid sideview :
Compact and lightweight. The picture taken from the rear shows a couple of details, such as the MGU-K on the left (where the mechanic is working), the oil/water pump on the right and the very short exhausts manifolds joining up to the turbo.
From the side view we can appreciate the very neat installation, contrary to what is seen on both the Ferrari and Renault power units. The Mercedes power unit is not only more powerful and efficient, but it’s also 18Kg lighter and all these features translate into a huge gap against the competition – a gap that according to Lotus engineers who from next season will be using the Mercedes powerplant has been quantified to 1,4 seconds. Hearing these numbers it’s not difficult to understand why on Sunday on the Russian track we had five Mercedes powered cars in the first positions.
Qualifying sector times chart :
Top 14 race pace comparison :
Race pace + strategies chart :
Pirrelli made a far too conservative choice of rubber to use for the Russian GP, bringing the soft and medium compounds, and thus allowing the drivers to do a one stop strategy. If Rosberg impressed everyone by performing 52 consecutive laps on the medium compounds and maintaining a very good pace, it should be emphasized the good performances delivered by Williams (with Bottas) and especially that of Button, showing a marked improvement for Mclaren, a sign that the aero updates introduced in Singapore (and focused also on the 2015 car) are working well – like the new “L” tyre squirt slot inspired by Red Bull.
Mclaren floor :
To confirm how much harder Mclaren are working on the development of the new car, we can have a look at their revised version of the butterfly suspension tested in Suzuka , with the upper arm now shorter than that below.
Mclaren butterfly rear suspension :
Ferrari continue to lose ground to Williams and in Sochi the Prancing Horse was too slow to compete with the Mercedes powered cars. In addition to the gap between the two power units (Mercedes and Ferrari), the Russian track emphasized another weakness of the F14-T – its inability to exploit its tires within the first laps.
As has been stated, Pirelli made a too conservative choice for the Russian GP, so that even the soft compound needed at least a couple of laps to start working in the right temperature range. But if with the soft compound, the pace was good enough for fighting the Mclaren, with the medium compound (the prime choice for Sochi) things went from bad to worse.
Indeed If with the soft tires Alonso was in line with the Mclaren pace and “just” half of a second slower than Williams, with the medium compound Ferrari was six tenths off the pace compared to Mclaren and over 1 second compared with Williams.
This theory was confirmed by Kimi’s pace too. After a poor first stint, Raikkonen race pace with the medium compound was almost identical to that of Alonso, highlighting all the deficiencies the F14-T has; beyond those just on a power unit level. The updates shown so far by Maranello are not enough, the gap with Mercedes is still sizeable (1,846s in qualifying and 0,906s in race ) .
One of the teams, that without doubt, impressed in Sochi was Toro Rosso, the team from Faenza which has shown big improvements during the last few races. The close co-operation with Milton Keynes is paying off, and an example of this co-operation is the new nosecone introduced in Suzuka (clearly inspired by the elder sister Red Bull) with the S-Duct
Toro Rosso S-Duct :
It was interesting to note in Sochi, that Red Bull’s engineers chose to use their version of the pelican nose with a bulge underneath. This decision was independant of the medium-low downforce requirements of the track.
Red Bull nose :