Have Mercedes solved their race problems.

26 Apr

Before the Chinese Grand Prix one of the biggest talking points in the paddock was how Mercedes’ race pace was a lot slower than their qualifying pace. But after Nico Rosberg Grand Prix those fears have been put to sleep, but have they actually disappeared?

Well, every driver is slower in the race than in qualifying due to many things for example the increased levels of fuel and by the time there is the right level of fuel in the car the tyres will have been worn out. But if you take each drivers’ fastest lap time as a percentage of their fastest time in qualifying you can compare how much time each driver is losing between qualifying and the race. To see how Mercedes compare to the rest of their field I’ve averaged out the time of their fastest lap as a percentage of their qualifying lap for just both just the Mercedes drivers and then also for the rest of the field. Now these figures don’t include any driver who completed less than 30 laps in the race.

The average for rest of the field after Bahrain is 4.303%

Whilst the average of the Mercedes drivers is 5.387%

Now 1% may only look like a small amount, but in Formula 1 where every tenth of a second counts 1% is a big margin. So Mercedes do still need to work on improving their race pace, but what could be the reason for this big gap between qualifying and race pace?

Well here are a few reasons:

1. Mercedes’ W-duct or the double DRS makes a real improvement to their pace and as it’s use is unlimited in qualifying and can only be used a maximum of once (occasionally twice) per lap in the race. So a race lap will be a lot slower than a qualifying lap because you can’t use the W-duct as often.

2. Mercedes’ tyre woes are still present. From what we’ve seen so far of Mercedes’ tyres it appears they work better at colder temperatures than the optimum temperature for the other teams. This means that at many of the tracks Mercedes will be more off the pace than the rest of the field (although this wouldn’t affect the percentages).

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