Formula 1

Gary Anderson: The Bahrain numbers that should worry Mercedes

by Gary Anderson
2 min read

Speeds are not always representative of true performance but with the current Formula 1 rules allowing DRS use when within one second of the car in front of, you need to make sure you are not a sitting duck if someone is breathing down your neck.

Looking at the speed trap figures from qualifying on the main straight, where the DRS could be used freely within the activation zone, gives a reasonable indication of who has the speed on the straight to attempt an overtake. In the past, the DRS was worth somewhere in the region of 15km/h, so if we assume it will be similar this year that’s the disadvantage against a car with DRS if you are defending.

Below is a table that includes the speed trap figure at the finish line and at the main speed trap 158 metres before Turn 1. The final column shows the speed increase between those two points, both of which are in the DRS activation zone.

Engine power and drag will be the prime mover in all three of these columns. But engine power is a little more important accelerating out of the last corner to the finish line and car drag a little more important going through the speed trap.

Perez 291.4 Perez 323.2 Verstappen 32.2
Verstappen 290.7 Verstappen 322.9 Perez 31.8
Alonso 290.7 Alonso 321.5 Alonso 30.8
Ocon 289.7 Ocon 320.4 Ocon 30.7
Schumacher 289.4 Latifi 319.4 Tsunoda 30.2
Latifi 289.3 Schumacher 318.4 Latifi 30.1
Leclerc 289.2 Magnussen 318.2 Magnussen 29.7
Sainz 289.7 Tsunoda 318.1 Hamilton 29.1
Albon 288.6 Gasly 317.3 Schumacher 29.0
Magnussen 288.5 Albon 316.7 Gasly 29.0
Gasly 288.3 Leclerc 316.6 Norris 28.2
Zhou 288.0 Sainz 315.9 Albon 28.1
Tsunoda 287.9 Norris 315.7 Bottas 28.1
Norris 287.5 Bottas 315.5 Russell 27.9
Bottas 287.4 Hamilton 315.4 Leclerc 27.4
Hamilton 286.3 Zhou 315.1 Sainz 27.2
Russell 286.1 Russell 314.0 Ricciardo 27.2
Stroll 284.6 Ricciardo 311.6 Zhou 27.1
Hulkenberg 284.3 Stroll 311.5 Stroll 26.9
Ricciardo 283.9 Hulkenberg 310.0 Hulkenberg 25.7

As you can see from all of the columns, both Red Bulls with their Honda power units head the field. Surprisingly close behind are the two Alpine cars, who are the only Renault engine users – so perhaps at last Renault has joined the club as far as PU performance is concerned.

After that, it becomes a bit of a mishmash except when you head down to the bottom of the columns. With the exception of the two Williams cars, who we can assume are lacking downforce and hence drag, there is a lot of uncertainty there. That doesn’t speak well of the Mercedes-engined cars.

They are not great off the last corner, they are not great through the speed trap and their speed delta is also not too impressive. We can confidently say they will be burning the midnight oil in Brixworth.

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