#F1 Forensic : Mercedes ends the season dominating

Brought to you by TheJudge13 technical analyst: Lorenzo De Luca

Mercedes ends the season dominating in Abu Dhabi

The season ended as it started, with the Mercedes power unit dominating the field. That was not a surprise seing that the UAE track features long straights – interrupted by slow chicanes that enhanced the PU106’s skills of power and good fuel consumption. From the opening laps it was clear – with Mercedes racing once again in a league of their own – with only Felipe Massa’s Williams able to clock similar lap times.

Race pace chart :


As we can see from the chart above, Mercedes built a huge gap in the first stint with a full fuel load (Abu Dhabi required all the 100Kg of fuel to finish the race) and both W05’s were capable of running two seconds faster than the rest of the field during the first stint. This has proven a steady gap throughout the season, affected only by reliability issues as we can see in the chart below :

Race pace gap from Mercedes :


Average team race pace gap from Mercedes :


More than half of a second advantage on the n fastest team – Red Bull – it leaves little hope for next year too, specially for teams like Ferrari or Mclaren (although in this case Honda competitiveness will be a key role) that have to bridge around a 1s performance gap to the Mercedes.

A gap that gets even bigger if we look at the qualifying session, were the cars express the maximum performances.

Qualifying average gap throughout the season :


Even in qualifying Red Bull confirms that they are the second force on the grid, with Williams following and then Ferrari. Here the difference in efficiency of the ERS system and recovery energy is even bigger expanding even more the difference between each power unit.

Sector 1 chart :


Sector 2 chart :


Sector 3 chart :


In Abu Dhabi the biggest differences were evident in the second and third sectors, if in the first sector (relatively short) we have an average gap of just 3 tenths, in the second ( two long straights) and the third sector (slow corners in sequence) we have a 7 tenths average gap. It is interesting to notice how in the first two sectors it is Williams who is very close to Mercedes, highlighting a great low drag set-up (also helped by the Mercedes power unit) while in the third (and slowest) one it is Red Bull with Ricciardo who is very close to Mercedes, highlighting RB10 aerodynamic abilities and precision of the front end.

It’s also worth noticing the big difference in top speed with Williams being 10/15 km\h faster than anybody else with only Mclaren and Kvyat capable of attaining a similar top speed

Top Speed chart :


ERS Failure cost Rosberg 2-3 seconds per lap

Without starting a discussion on who, between Rosberg and Hamilton, most deserved the world championship, in Abu Dhabi the ERS failure give us the opportunity to estimate its value on laptime. On the UAE track this was around 2/3 seconds per lap. If the most obvious loss is power (around 160Bhp) we also have to take into account how its failure affected the braking system, because with the MGU-K not slowing down the crankshaft anymore it was delegating the braking power only to the brakes pads and calipers (smaller for Mercedes at the rear end – only 4 pistons vs 6 ) and compromising the brake balance of the car .

Rosberg vs Hamilton race pace :


Mclaren Mp24/9 B

It was announced that In Abu Dhabi – Mclaren had brought a huge aerodynamic update package, to start focusing on 2015 project. Peter Prodromou, former Red Bull engineer brought with him all the ideas he shared with Newey and there was no surprise seeing the new front wing being a copy and paste of the current RB10 front wing.

Mclaren new front wing :


To better adapt the new front wing to the car, there was also the introduction of new turning vanes placed under the chassis, which in this case, have gone in a totally different direction from the Red Bull design

Mclaren turning vanes :



16 responses to “#F1 Forensic : Mercedes ends the season dominating

    • I agree! It’s interesting how the gap looks to have reduced slightly, i.e. Rosberg without ERS held 2nd in Canada, but fell away in Abu Dhabi, running at Caterham pace like Massa had in Sochi qualifying.

      But we can sense that they are still comfortably ahead.. Austria looks like the only place where they didn’t have a sizeable pace advantage. Some teams caught up (Red Bull, Williams), while others like Force India fell away.

  1. Brilliant stuff.
    If Red Bull had a decent engine, it seems they old be right up there… which leads me to think that McLaren might have an outside chance of winning races in the latter part of next season.
    I persist in thinking Honda will come up with the goods – and suspect they will be throwing some serious extra resources at the problem after their test disappointment – and Prodromou must be bringing much of Red Bull’s aero secrets/knowhow with him.

    Nitpick – those are not the under chassis turning vanes. Accidental wrong pics posted ?

    • Yep sorry, these are the new under chassis T-vanes : http://i.imgur.com/biSCmpo.jpg

      About Honda, well it all depends on how well Mclaren and the Japanese will work together. Obviously these 3 days (the filming day and those two testing days in Abu Dhabi) helped them a lot, as it will help that they could change the 100% of the PU till February (or whenever the freeze will start)

    • It’s possible that some of the glitches have to do with retro fitting the engine into a chassis designed for the Mercedes engine. I would be surprised if Honda hasn’t got the PU up to snuff. They have had the advantage of knowing what the competition put together and what kind of output is going to be required to compete. If they have used resources proportionate to those they threw at the Brawn it may be the engine to beat. I don’t think we could get a better championship then if Alonso and Hamilton were in equal equipment.

      • Could be, as and Honda engineer said yesterday, all the PU element was ok when tested separately, but when put all together there were glitches. So most likely the MP4/29 wasn’t modified to house the Honda PU (the louvres on the side pod and floor prove this theory) . Altough I’m not suprised or worried about these issues now.

    • This man seems to have a lot of time, but in the end it is completely and utterly useless. The performance of human beings cannot be put into numbers. It doesn’t account for factors like:

      a) outside influences (driver health and specific daily form on the day)
      b) drivers preference in track vs track run on
      c) relative starting position. As he pointed out. Vettel having a deficit of full five GP distances as of Canada did not have the same experience and data to draw from that his team mate – it wasn’t even a level playing field between two drivers, how can you claim to have seriously reliable data to compare twenty drivers??

      It looks nice and flashy and it will make the bullshit bingo in a manager meeting an exciting affair, but it is not much more than someone being bored and presenting faux data to conceal his completely random and subjective list.

      • It’s true that he deals exclusively with results, but, at the end of the day, is that not what F1 is all about?

        He himself writes that Kvyat’s potential is worth exploring, even if it leads to nothing, despite Vergne netting more points this year.

        It’s also points results that are keeping Button in the game, even if Magnussen showed more pace in the first half of the season.

      • Plus, his analysis of Rosberg vs. Hamilton is interesting. I knew Hamilton gains time under braking, but did not expect Rosberg to gain time or match him in slower corners as well as faster ones.

        • Those analysis are viable, but the major fabric of the article of creating a ‘driver rating’ is completely arbitrary and every math student who made it past the 3rd semester is able to rubbish that model within minutes.
          He pretends to do something that’s mathematically impossible without the use of supercomputers and even then you could at best approximate a model that is slightly less open to subjective manipulation.

      • Take a pill Hippo. I didn’t see any claim, by the author, that it was carved in stone. It was an exercise in comparison and was certainly much better thought out then some of the comments I’ve read from you or the general so and so is the better than so and so. Your comment about needing a super computer to even run it; that made me laugh. “…every math student who has made it past the third semester”? Third semester of what? Your points a and b sound ridiculous to me. Did Hamilton have 11 favorite tracks this year or Vettel 9 (or whatever last)? I would argue the great drivers don’t care where the are racing.

        • You’re not very well versed in statistics, are you? The list presented in the article is an arbitrary list, simply sorted by his preference of driver using a formula he doesn’t describe.

          How for instance do you provide a mathematically viable comparison of two drivers over a weekend – to stay with Red Bull. Take Barcelona for instance:

          Ricciardo started the weekend with an advantage of about 500km of track milage. Vettel, lost most of the friday on top of his already massive mileage deficit and could not setup his car properly as a result. He couldn’t run in Q3 and took a gearbox penalty on top of it. Which means RIC started 3rd, Vettel 15th. Who was the stronger driver in Quali? How do you quantify it?
          In the race RIC finished where he started, while Vettel came from 15th to finish 4th, 27secs behind RIC. If you take the bare result, it’s just a random number. The results says only that RIC beat Vettel because of absence of mechanical failrue and subsequently massively advantegous starting conditions.
          How do you realistically develop a model that gives even an idea what the difference in strength that day was? Was Vettel better? Ric? where they comparable? You simply can’t say without running through hundreds of parameters and weighing them to calculate correction factors and this is where your model falls apart because by manipulating the weight coefficients you can influence the model to deliver the result you want.
          The ‘list’ he presented has zero information value.

          • Of course I never said it had “informational value” I said it was a good read, which it was. It is unfortunate that you have such an arrogance, you might otherwise be worthy of debate. It would obviously surprise you what I know. You might even learn something.

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