January 10, 2023

Mercedes baffled by Red Bull’s ‘odd’ F1 wing choice

The twisty Hungaroring circuit had expected to play perfectly to the strengths of Red Bull’s RB16B chassis.

However, Mercedes turned the tables on its main title rival – with Lewis Hamilton grabbing pole position and then recovering from a wrong strategy call to finish third on the road.

Mercedes did not have any immediate answers as to why it showed such strong pace over the Hungarian weekend, but was intrigued about Red Bull’s wing selection.

The world champion team had feared that Red Bull could be unbeatable if it went for its highest downforce version – with Mercedes using its extreme version at a lot of tracks now.

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “We thought this is a circuit that should suit them [Red Bull].

“The other thing that always worries us when we come to a max downforce circuit is that we’re frequently running around on our max downforce wing and then they bring it out for the Monacos and for this place.

“But maybe they couldn’t balance that. They went away from it on Saturday and for us it seems odd that you would ever run anything other than your biggest rear wing here.

“We don’t profess to know why they’re taking decisions on that car, but it could be that they were just struggling to get enough front end in it, on the big wing, and they dropped down onto the smaller one.”

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Mercedes wants to do some deeper analysis as to why its form was better than Red Bull last weekend, with it appearing to have made a performance gain on both the straights and in corners.

“It’s something we need to look at over the next few days,” said Shovlin. “We’re down to sort of pretty small developments now to be honest.

“We did have the update kit in Silverstone and that does look like it’s given us some useful performance. But then the car was working well in terms of where it was maintaining its tyre temperatures and we had quite a nice balance with it.

“But to be honest, we’re surprised by it ourselves. I mean it’s a pleasant surprise, but we were surprised to have had that margin to pole for instance.” 

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