However, following the race, Christian Horner said that Mercedes had made a “big stride” with their power unit, giving them a straight-line speed advantage over Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton was forced to take a 10-place grid penalty in Istanbul when Mercedes fitted a fourth internal combustion engine to his W12, putting him six points behind Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings after finishing P5 to Verstappen’s P2. Standings
“Their straight-line speed has increased significantly recently,” Horner remarked, “and I believe that, although we could previously equal them with smaller wings, we can no longer do so.”
“We observed that notably at this track, where Lewis had a substantial straight-line advantage due to the car’s larger rear wing. We have to make the most of our package, and it’s remarkable that they’ve taken the step that they have with the power unit.”
Despite Horner’s statements, the Red Bull Team Principal clarified that Red Bull had not filed a formal protest against Mercedes, which also supplies power units to McLaren, Williams, and Aston Martin, saying: “Just for clarity, we didn’t protest it.” As many teams do, we raised some questions.
“[And] it wasn’t just Red Bull; other manufacturers expressed concerns as well, which are still being addressed. It is something that the FIA should investigate and police. However, having a tremendous straight-line speed that is more than when the DRS is open is rather amazing.
I mean, if you look at the straight-line speed of particularly Lewis [in the race], it was like 15 to 20 [km/h] up after the kink on the straight. It’s phenomenal. We’ve got to find a bit of straight-line speed – maybe they were running a different downforce configuration, but some speed to find. And we’ve got some tracks coming up that hopefully suit us, but we know Austin is Hamilton territory, so we’re going to have to be on our A-game.”
Mercedes’ trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin stated the team was just delighted to still have a car capable of challenging for poles and victories at this point of the season after winning the previous two races – with Red Bull having not won since the Dutch Grand Prix.
“It appears to be a car capable of winning championships,” Shovlin remarked. “If you go back to the beginning of the year, when we were making development choices, trying to balance the two years [2021 and 2022], one of our concerns was whether we would still be able to stick the car on pole, achieve the first-row lockout, and control a race at the end of the year?”
And it’s really reassuring that we are now getting into the last six, that we’ve shown we’ve got a package that can out-qualify [Red Bull] on a Saturday and out-race them on a Sunday.”