Why Mercedes is faster than its customers

While Mercedes are clearly the dominant team this year, having a Mercedes engine supply contract should be a big boost to any team. Williams F1, for example, have reversed their death spiral in F1 with terrific performances and podium finishes this year.

On the other side of that coin, McLaren have a Mercedes power unit and yet they seem adrift if the types of performance that the Mercedes works team have been able to accomplish. A cursory thought might suggest that the Mercedes chassis is far superior to the McLaren but and interesting article over at Adam Cooper’s blog could shed light on some of the deficiency that McLaren are facing this year—at the very least, it show why Ron Dennis is moving to Honda power units for 2015.

Adam unpacks the issue in fine fashion and even sought out a follow up response from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. Ron said:

“One thing that jumps you if you look at all of the qualifications of all of this year is the time difference between the Mercedes-Benz works team and the other teams,” said Dennis. “By and large it’s always in excess of a second, putting aside the pace which they can generate in a Grand Prix when they’re on the back foot.

“What that means is that in my opinion, an opinion held by many people in our organisation, is that you have no chance of winning a World Championship if you are not receiving the best engines from whoever is manufacturing your engines.

“A modern Grand Prix engine in this moment in time is not just about sheer power, it’s about how you harvest the energy, it’s about how you store the energy, and effectively if you don’t have control of that process – meaning access to source code – then you are not going to be able to stabilise your car in the entry to corners, etc, and you lose lots of lap time.

“So even though you have the same brand of engine that does not mean you have the ability to optimise the engine. So you’ve got to start by putting yourself in a position where you have the best engine available. That’s what we’ve done for the approaching years. We had a great partnership with Mercedes, but we intend to hit the ground running with Honda.”

The innuendo—not so subtle—is that Mercedes has different configurations that they are not sharing with their customers. I have no reason to doubt Mr. Dennis but nor do I have a reason to allege that Mercedes is holding back on their customers—I’ll let you make that call—but I do recognize that Force India and McLaren have not had the success that Williams F1 has had and that has to be part of the measuring stick in which to asses whether Ron’s statements are true.

As for Toto Wolff and his stance on the issue, Adam Cooper asked him and he said:

“I wouldn’t even want to use the terminology ‘source code,’ because it doesn’t make any sense. They have been our most valuable customer in the past, and a great team, and they are switching to a competitor in Honda, and obviously we are pretty aware of that.”

It’s an interesting notion and a nice article—along with other pieces from Adam on his blog—so check it out and let us know what you think the difference is between Mercedes and all of its customers.

Hat Tip: Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog

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