Mercedes engineers insist they ‘need a faster car’ to compete with Red Bull and Max Verstappen

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Mercedes engineers insist they ‘need a faster car’ to compete with Red Bull and Max Verstappen this Formula 1 season, despite Lewis Hamilton winning the Bahrain Grand Prix

  • Formula 1 champion Mercedes says their car is no stronger than Red Bull
  • Lewis Hamilton won the season opener in Bahrain just ahead of Max Verstappen
  • Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ track side technical head, insists the job will be done

Formula 1 champion Mercedes says their car is no stronger than Red Bull in any area, despite Lewis Hamilton winning Sunday’s opening season race in Bahrain.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest in every practice session in Bahrain, taking pole position before finishing second as Mercedes made the most of clever strategy and Hamilton’s skill.

Andrew Shovlin, technical head of Mercedes trackside equipment, said the team was already deeply debated about what they needed to do to do better.

Formula 1 champion Mercedes says their car is no stronger than Red Bull this season

Formula 1 champion Mercedes says their car is no stronger than Red Bull this season

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat Max Verstappen in the season opening of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat Max Verstappen in the season opening of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat Max Verstappen in the season opening of the Bahrain Grand Prix

“We don’t really have any strengths against them, is what I’d say,” he added when asked which areas the car needed to improve in.

“We’ve had a lot of years where we’ve been able to rely on straight-line speed or fast turns or interconnected turns, but looking at it here, we didn’t take any time off.

“ In qualifying, we’re just at their pace in our best corners and they’re faster in the others. So we need a faster car, it’s that simple. ‘

Restrictions this year make it more difficult to add performance, with little time in the wind tunnel and a ban on engine development.

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' technical head of the track, said the team has work to do

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' technical head of the track, said the team has work to do

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ technical head of the track, said the team has work to do

There will also be major rule changes next year, with teams moving resources to their 2022 cars sooner rather than later.

“We need to look at more subtle areas related to driveability,” said Shovlin. ‘This season is actually more than usual on the fine margins.

“I don’t see that we can really develop to a point where we can clearly move forward and hopefully Red Bull will not develop to a point where they are clearly ahead.”

Aerodynamic adjustments have also had more impact on those teams, such as Mercedes with a low rake car, than Red Bull’s philosophy with high rake.

Shovlin said nothing could be done about that.

‘What we definitely can’t is all of a sudden say we’re going to lift the rear of our car 30mm and work with that because that would write off the season … we’d lose so many of them doing that … it’s just not practical. ‘

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