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Mercedes claim tyre performance the biggest factor in determining pace

Written by  Apr 20, 2018

Mercedes claims the ability to optimise tyre performance is currently the biggest factor determining the relative pace of the top three teams.

Over the first three races, we have seen the German manufacturer and Ferrari lead the way with Red Bull not far behind though over the past two weekends, in very different conditions it was the Scuderia that emerged as the team to beat.

Safety Car's in Australia and China also led to distorted results and has meant that for the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes has not won in three races and chief strategist James Vowles explained why it was so complicated.

"I think the tyres this year are having an impact," he said in a video. "You’ve got three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – that all, depending on what tyre it is, and what track it is, are able to have different levels of performance to each other.

"And what that’s creating is different cars with different levels of performance depending on what the track temperature is, what the conditions are, and what tyre they have fitted to the car."

What is also frustrating Mercedes is how there are occasions when everything comes together and the true performance is shown.

“In Melbourne, we were able to get the car working on the tyres," he said. "In Q3 we set a time that was extremely fast with Lewis.

"If we go forward to Bahrain, the medium tyre worked very well on our car, and the degradation on the supersoft looked good, as well.

"So there are little vignettes of information where we’ve been able to get it to work."

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Another key factor, which is kept quieter but is also considered crucial, is the amount of oil burning in the engine with Mercedes said to be playing it safer than Ferrari which is why straight line speed is very close.

Both teams are still much more aggressive than Renault and Honda with this trick though and could explain a lot of the difference in the relative engine performance.

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