After a few seasons of relatively dominant races by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettl, many have been relieved this year. The Red Bulls already found themselves in trouble during the winter tests, as they drove only about a third of the laps as the Mercedes team did. Opponents of Vettl's "finger" felt additional relief and indulgence in the first race, and in the next three they probably watched in ecstasy the continuation of the problems of the team from Milton Keynes.
Where did the current champions get stuck?
The answer to that question is complicated, as it’s not just about what broke Red Bull, but also about what was going on at Mercedes and Renault.
New rules brought new engines. Mercedes, as an engine manufacturer, just like Renault, knew exactly what their six-cylinder turbo engine would look like long before the first tests began this season. The design of this year's race car began two, maybe even three seasons ago, still under the control and watchful eye of Ross Brown, and everything was built around a new, smaller engine, so they did not run out of space when "packing" components. What’s more, the intercooler has been installed so ingeniously that it brings them some extra horsepower compared to teams using identical powertrains.
So Mercedes has undoubtedly progressed, but what about Red Bull? When Sebastian Vettel won the series, with less than a ten-second lead, and some spectators complained about the uninteresting races, saying it was clear in advance that Vettel would win, funny comments surfaced that Vettel wasn’t winning anyway , but Adrian Newey, the design “veleum” of Red Bull, who repeatedly found an additional few hundredths of a second against competitors. While Newey needs to be credited for winning, though not all of them, as the Formula One team is much more than a single individual, he needs to be equally credited for defeats.
At the time of McLarn, Newey was making the most "tight" body of the car. The revolutionary MP4-18, which never stood at the start of the race, for example, had such a narrow cabin that the test racer of the team Alex Wurz could not squeeze into it at all, but the slightly smaller David Coulthard somehow managed to get behind the wheel. The same philosophy guided Newey at Red Bull, among other things, his race cars were successful because of her as well. This year, however, only this one is (partly) to blame for the problems, as the overly stacked components under the enclosure are overheating. Everything from batteries to the ERS system, which generates electricity from the heat of the exhaust gases, which the racer can use later. At the same time, the suction air cooler also "sucks", which means that warmer air enters the engine, which makes the drive unit work worse (the colder the air entering the combustion chamber, the greater the engine power).
All to the delight of Red Bull's opponents. TODA! As usual, the teams for the first European race in Barcelona are preparing the first major improvements of the cars. So it is again this year at Red Bull, which promises a big leap.
The track characteristic itself is slightly less in favor of Mercedes race cars, which rely mainly on engine power, and slightly more Red Bulls, which produce slightly more vacuum. In addition, Red Bull will already have new parts of the car available here, which will make the cooling of the components even better. Their partners, who found themselves under pressure after the first four races, also prepared improvements. Motor supplier Renault has prepared new software that will enable better use of the engine, which is supposed to offer the racers more power than in previous races.
The French Total, which supplies the team with fuel, is also expected to make its mark. This is supposed to be better and allow for two to three tenths of a second faster times per lap.
So if we add up the characteristics of the tracks in Barcelona and Monaco that follow the Spanish GP, better fuel, and better efficiency of Renault's engine, the advantage of the Mercedes team, despite the fact that they are likely to progress, will be much smaller than it was.
It smells more and more like the Red Bull renaissance. The return to the top is not in question, the only question is when or whether it will arrive in time so that Mercedes does not escape. In any case, a stronger Red Bull would be exactly what we need to spice up a boring season.
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