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Five reasons for the Mercedes counterattack: The empire strikes back

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Five reasons for the Mercedes counterattack
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V Or two weeks left Crisis mood at Mercedes. Losing to Ferrari in Montreal hurt. Because it came about on a route on which Mercedes had to be judged strongly. And because the opponents scored points with qualities that are normally attributed to Mercedes. Engine power, fuel consumption, perfect processes, drivers in top form.

In the week after the Canadian GP, ​​there was a cleaning thunderstorm in Brackley and Brixworth. 'Since Montreal we have made progress in analyzing our weaknesses and strengths and working on the weaknesses,' explained team principal Toto Wolff. Hamilton had already revealed on Thursday: 'We were honest with ourselves and have made our mistakes clear.'

In Paul Ricard, the front row shines again in silver. Almost 4 tenths ahead of Ferrari, 7 tenths ahead of Red Bull. That's an announcement. The mistakes were made by the others. Red Bull is two-pronged because of balance problems. Max Verstappen with little, Daniel Ricciardo with a lot of downforce. Ferrari did too long with the vote on Friday.

Sebastian Vettel did not find the ideal line straight away: 'It only got better in the afternoon during the long runs.' Then the set-up of the two red cars was tweaked a bit . On Saturday, the gap to Mercedes was only half as big. “Vettel and Hamilton made small mistakes in their last qualifying lap. “I was a little too aggressive. Even with a perfect lap we wouldn't have taken pole position, 'admitted Vettel.

Improvements in engine, aerodynamics and aero balance

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Under the eyes of CEO Dieter ZetscheMercedes secured both places in the first row.

Is it again just the race track why the pendulum is swinging towards Mercedes again this time? Barcelona have similar characteristics, and Mercedes had the upper hand there too. “The track will certainly suit us,” said Wolff, but added: “We have improved in all areas. With the engine, with the aerodynamics, with the aero balance. And we were able to preserve the lead from Friday for Saturday. '

That was not the case in the last races. You saw different cars on the two training days. But this time too, Mercedes did not go without any breakdowns. Valtteri Bottas lost 25 minutes on Friday due to a water leak. Apparently a cover of the radiator wasn't screwed on properly.

On a new track, and a difficult one like Paul Ricard, lost track time hurts twice. “In the third practice session, I couldn't drive because of the rain. I had to slowly approach the qualification. So I can be satisfied with the result. “Bottas was 0.118 seconds short of his team-mate.

The Mercedes show in Paul Ricard has many reasons. First: the route profile. Second: the upgrades to the engine and aerodynamics. Third: better structured processes. Fourth: minimizing errors. Fifth: the thinner Pirelli tires. They don't just help Mercedes because they don't overheat easily. With less rubber on the tread, the tire moves less when cornering. That helps the sensitive aerodynamics of the W09. Ferrari and Red Bull are less sensitive to this.

Ferrari has more confidence in ultrasoft tires

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Can Sebastian Vettel counter in the race?

Despite the deficit on the Mercedes, Vettel sees his chance in the race. “We have a very good racing car.“ And a different strategy than Mercedes and Red Bull. Ferrari starts on the softest tires. A look at the long run table shows why: On the supersoft tires, the Mercedes were half a second faster per lap. Ferrari presented itself stronger on the ultrasoft tires. When the opponentis superior, you have to use a different tactic. Otherwise you never get past.

Vettel hopes that Pirelli's softest mixture on offer brings the decisive advantage at the start: 'The run-up to the first corner is quite long.' Exactly 590 meters. Because the grip advantage when starting up should be around four meters, Vettel still needs a good slipstream during the sprint towards the Verrerie chicane.

Vettel hopes that he will not experience a second Barcelona in France. The Ferraris ate their tires and didn't even get on the podium. “We learned from it. Paul Ricard is not as tough on the tires as Barcelona. We didn't have any problems with the tires during the long runs. “If Vettel loses the start, it will be difficult. Overtaking is practically impossible on the route. The framework races have already shown that. Only rain can break the procession. Or extreme heat, so that the tires go to their knees.

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