Mercedes sees 'up and down' performance swing in final races


Mercedes believes it will see "up and down" performance swings in the four remaining rounds of the 2021 F1 world championship, but the Brackley squad could hold an advantage this week in Brazil over title rival Red Bull.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit and Mex Verstappen scored a second consecutive win in Mexico City last weekend, the pair's ninth victory of the season.

Both Mercedes and Red Bull remain in close contention, with either team gaining an edge over the other depending on a circuit's characteristics or track conditions.

As the F1 season heads into its final stretch, two venues – Qatar and Jeddah – among the four that remain will be unfamiliar territory.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes the relative performance between the German outfit and Red Bull will continue to vary.

"It’s difficult because normally this far into the season you see the performance settle down a bit and the swings are still big," Shovlin explained.

"There will be circuits that will suit us, we had very strong races in Turkey and Sochi and plenty of strong races since the summer break. So it will be up and down.

"We’ve definitely got out work cut out, on balance they are a little bit ahead of us but it’ll get affected by the weather, the track temperatures, those will play a part.

"But the bigger thing will be the circuit characteristics. It seems when we’re on an understeery track we tend to go a little bit better, and then at the last two races, it was very much about rear tyre overheating, and it’s quite clear they have the advantage when we’re in that situation."

After last Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was optimistic on his team's chances of giving Red Bull a better run for its money in Brazil.

Shovlin agreed but highlighted the importance of the weather factor at Interlagos that could favour one team or the other. He also singled out an advantage enjoyed by Red Bull's RB16B in Mexico that should be mitigated in Brazil.


"The weather inherently is very unstable there," Shovlin said. "You can have 50-degree track one day and it can be a washout the next.

"I think if it is a hot circuit it’ll probably move it in their direction, a bit of cloud cover may well suit us.

"But one advantage they had [in Mexico] is they were able to go up a step on downforce from the rear wing they normally run to their max downforce wing, but for us that’s the one that we run normally, it’s just their car seems to have more downforce than us on identical sized wings.

"And I think that played into their favour.

"In Brazil that should be less of an issue but it’s very hard to predict, and like coming here, we’ll look at the weaknesses of our car and work out how we can minimise them."

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