The Mercedes advantage has become quite the talk in recent days after the story was broke by…well, there are lots of people claiming they broke the news but Sky Sports F1 feels Mark Hughes broke the news and as a big fan of Mark’s, I am more than willing to think this fine gentleman of F1 journalistic circles may well have done so. Regardless, the news is out and Mercedes have pulled a “blown diffuser” innovation moment that may be impossible to catch up with. Sky Sports F1 explains:
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So the turbo design—or location of the turbo and the design around it—has taken the Formula 1 world and shaken it up a bit. When I say a bit, qualifying in Bahrain had the Merc duo nearly a second quicker than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. In the race, they were lapping, at times, close to 2 or 3 seconds per lap faster than their rivals—admittedly there are a few complimentary factors that added to its turbo genius that made this possible.
While the turbo design is being hailed as one of those groundbreaking innovations—just as the dual diffuser was for Brawn GP—you have to wonder if this doesn’t spell domination for a few seasons to come. The teams do get to make performance upgrades at the end of this year but how much of the engine can Renault and Ferrari change? Could they, conceivably, offer a completely new design with this new turbo placement or a similar design?
I recall reading an article in which Adrian Newey suggested that the Renault engine was being difficult with their RB10 chassis but the way that Renault were using their engine was very innovative and if they could get the two to work together, it could be a real competitive package. I apologize for the lack of citation but I suspect it was on AUTOSPORT somewhere. One wonders if Renault has an ace up their sleeve as well but they have not been able to exploit it as of yet.
No doubt the folks at Ferrari and Renault are looking at this very closely and trying to decide how they can overcome this clear advantage that Mercedes has. Regardless, you have to take your hat off to Mercedes for their innovation in this area. As this is truly some of those unique F1-related innovations that could, and I say could, have a road car application. I say could because I’m not an engineer and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night…nor am I Mark Hughes.