Red Bull raking in wins or is this a throw-away year for Mercedes?

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Friday - LAT Images

Certainly the aerodynamic changes in the 2021 season have created some challenges with regards to the real floor of the cars and some team steel these changes may have cost the low-rake teams such as Aston Martin a full second to the high-rake opponents such as red Bull and Alpha Tauri.

In an article by Mr. Noble, Mercedes says the high-rake cars have done much better with the new aero-rules compared to the low-rake cars and while they are working hard to overcome this, there is only so much a team is allowed to change. Making a big change like raising the rake of the car, even if they were allowed to, makes the 2021 season a bit of a write-off in their opinion.

“We’ve got a car that could win a championship if we make some clever decisions with it, do some good work with it and operate well over the year,” said Mercedes trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin.

“But whether or not it’s high-rake or low-rake, we can’t do anything about that now. What we certainly can’t do is suddenly say we’re going to lift the rear of our car 30mm and work with that, because that would write off the season. We would lose so much in doing that – to recover it, it’s just not practical.”

The challenge then becomes making the low-rake design as quick as the high-rake design of Red Bull and that’s considering that it is the high-rake car advantage with the new aero-rules.

“Did this set of regulations drag back low-rake cars more than high-rake cars? That may well be the case,” Shovlin said.

“I know that they [Red Bull] won the last race [of 2020] but, generally, we were ahead at the end of the year and that’s not the case now.

“So, either we took a bigger hit with the rules or they’ve had a faster rate of development since they applied the regulation changes. But it is what it is.”

It’s a complicated situation to solve for but in the end, after watching Bahrain,. I am not 100% convinced that Red Bull is completely dominant in their long-run race pace. Now that could be track limited and we will have to wait and see but as it stands, there seems to be very little between them and Mercedes isn’t used to running neck and neck with anyone else. They have had a baked-in advantage for seven years now and Red Bull’s high-rake car and new Honda shove is the first real challenge in a long time.

Not a great message for Mercedes but fans seem to lie it.

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This will definitely be an interesting theme for the early part of the season at least, till we see whether Red Bull can sustain the results they’ve achieved so far. Will this be akin to Team Brawn’s double-diffuser coup in ’09?

PS love your insights but might you want to proofread before publishing. Recent posts have contained unusual numbers of unusual typos (here, “teams steel these changes…” “but fans seem to lie it.”, etc.). Wondering if you have some new voice-to-text software that isn’t quite keeping up on the go?