Just one top team closes the gap to Mercedes this year


We learned from the era of Red Bull domination that Top Speed and the fastest way around the circuit are not always related. The Renault powered RB6-9 were often the slowest through the speed traps but set the fastest laps in qualifying and once the race began, disappeared off into the distance.

We also know Australia Is a strange circuit and throws up ‘interesting’ results which are not replicated for the rest of the season. It is somewhat a grown up go kart type circuit, which is why Hamilton enjoys it so much and has now nailed pole position practically every other time he races in Melbourne.

However, it is worth noting the pecking order now, before we head off to Malaysia.

One measure is rate of change year on year which gives us some idea of how teams are progressing or regressing. This is the only way of validating the claim that one team has caught up by x amount to another.

Renault were claiming this was the case prior to the Australian weekend. Following the Barcelona tests, Remi Taffin – director of operations – said, “We had a target to go on top of our gap so I am not going to display any numbers. But we have gone onto our target which was to half the gap to Mercedes.”

Whether Remi wishes to display numbers or not, we can now have a preliminary examination of what this looks like.

Fastest lap in Australia 2014

1:29:375 Mercedes

1:30:381 Red Bull

1.006 Gap

Fastest lap in Australia 2015

1:26:327 Mercedes

1:28:329 Red Bull

2.003 Gap

No wonder Christian Horner is yelping for the FIA to ‘do something’. Then again maybe Toto has the right response, “Just get your fucking head down, work hard and try to sort it out’.”

Just one of the front running teams have actually closed the gap to Mercedes and that is Williams

Fastest lap in Australia 2014

1:30:920 Williams

1.545 Gap to Mercedes

Fastest lap in Australia 2015

1:27:718 Williams

1.391 Gap to Mercedes

This is a 3.52% improvement for Williams, whilst Mercedes have improved just 3.40%


Ferrari fans have been cock-a-hoop with their team’s weekend. Best of the rest behind Mercedes and a maiden podium for Vettel. Yet the cold hard facts are that whilst they have overtaken Red Bull, they too have slipped further behind Mercedes over the year.

Ferrari’s gap to Mercedes is 1.430 seconds and they have improved by just 2.63% compared to Mercedes 3.40%


Other team’s improvements

Toro Rosso improved by 2.8%

Lotus improved by 5.4% (from a particularly low base/changed engine supplier)

Sauber 3.8%

Force India 2.2%

McLaren were slower in absolute terms



17 responses to “Just one top team closes the gap to Mercedes this year

  1. I can’t help but think that Williams probably left some time on the table in 2014, especially if they ran heavy in practice as they like to do. Qual was a washout, and Bottas effectively rose from the back of the grid to what should have been 2nd place, driving half a lap with a puncture and still getting 5th!

    • On that note, surely Mercedes also could have gone quicker had qualifying been dry.. we need to piece together the only times they were at full chat (Bahrain 2014?) to establish the real picture!

  2. As said by the learned judge, i would postpone my thoughts on the pecking order up until Barcelona, because Melbourne is a one off. Barcelona is the place where teams would bring substantial upgrades and if Ferrari is still ahead of Williams then we will see? Also Red bull have one of the best teams so they can turn it around and be the second best. The unknown of Honda Mclaren is also there.

  3. Mclaren are the interesting one for me, JB seemed as quick as anything else through the corners from what i saw, i watched free practice and the TR and RB would fly past him on the straight, but through the corners he coould keep up, even maybe make a little up on them. The trouble is Honda bought their lawn mower engines to Mclaren by mistake.

    • Their chassis looks great. I was surprised since I saw the first pictures during the preseason tests.

  4. Interesting BUT RedBull will just trim out some wing like they did last year and to an extent in 2013 too so that’s gonna bring them some lap time.
    McLaren/Honda seems to have a decent ICE but only have a Dremmel-muti as their MGU-K.

    The improvement percentages do make grim reading.

    I’m a McLaren man, but at the moment, it’s Forza Ferrari……😱

  5. “Yet the cold hard facts are that whilst they have overtaken Red Bull, they too have slipped further behind Mercedes over the year.”

    That is a wrong assumption, HAM was driving in free air all the way while VET was behind MAS in his first stint (except last 2 laps), also RAI’s very good 2 stint can show us a true potential of Ferrari.

  6. RedBull can only trim their wing so far. They’ve been doing that since last year and it worked pretty well considering the engine they had. This year though, until renault get their engine sorted, trimming their wing probably won’t work as well – last year, despite running with less downforce than they could have done still meant that they were about on par with mercedes, if not better, in terms of aero performance. This year though we are told that Merc have found quite a bit more downforce (and even more power) and so seem to have more downforce than RedBull. Thus, trimming their wing even more -considering the engine is utter shite – now will mean a loss in performance and laptimes will be worse.

  7. Lets not forget that Red Bull were running their cars illegally – over limit on fuel flow – last year in Australia so any comparison is questionable.

    Also they are still running an interim testing aero setup after failing their short nose crash tests which meant their planned aero package for Australia could not be used.

    • Acttually I will disagree for the simple fact that in 2014, RIC finished P2 in a time of 1:33:23.235 whereas this year he finished in a time of 1:32:04.816 despite being a lowly P6 and Red Bull having (what all but Hippo will agree) cheated rather blatantly.

      So even without the engine and nose sorted, they were already faster this year than last, and that’s ignoring traffic to boot, as someone noted being stuck behind Massa really did kill Seb’s first stint so it’s likely they (as well as Merc) still have some pace left, in addition to the development tokens.

  8. How is the Ferrari gap calculated? Comparing Raikkonen’s best laps for each year.

    If it is Alonso’s best in 2014 vs Raikkonen or Vettel in 2015 then I think there is a massive factor that is not being taken into consideration!

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