Sergio Perez said that Mercedes’ engine power is currently only ahead of Honda and that Renault is ‘more or less there’. But of course, that is not true. And here is why.
Ferrari has been close to Mercedes for the past two years when it comes to engine power, especially in racing conditions, so it is not difficult to imagine that they caught up with Mercedes considering their relatively small gap in 2016.
But to argue that Renault is ‘more or less there with Mercedes’ and that ‘Mercedes only has advantage over Honda’ has nothing to do with reality.
Renault has made major changes to their power unit, as did Honda, in order to catch the leading Mercedes, but the French manufacturer doesn’t hide that they are currently far from optimal settings in order to achieve reliability.
This means that we won’t see where they are in relation to the Mercedes before their first big upgrade, probably in Canada, even though it is still questionable whether or not they will come near the Mercedes.
As we have already written, Mercedes did not sit on their laurels, and from several sources it was confirmed that they’ve done an unprecedented step forward with their new engineo M08 EQ Power +.
Interestingly, one of the people who said this was Force India’s Technical Director Andy Green.
Since Renault was about 50 HP behind Mercedes last year (confirmed by Christian Horner) and that Renault has not unleashed the full potential of their new power unit R.E.17, it is quite clear that Renault’s gap this season is roughly the same as last year. But they’re definitely not ‘more or less there’ with Mercedes. ”
Quick look at the top speeds for qualifying for Bahrain GP just confirms that. Although the top speeds are not quite a precise engine power indicator because the teams with less powerfull engines often use lower downforce levels to compensate for power deficit, they still provide a good insight into the current situation.
At the bottom are McLaren drivers with Honda engines, and above them there are four drivers with Renault’s engines, which trail about 10 km/h behind fastest drivers.
Force India’s VJM10 has a higher air resistance than the team wanted because they were over-conservative with the cooling of the power unit and the sidepods are too wide, which is why their car is most often slowest than the three Mercedes powered cars, which probably contributed to Perez’s perception that Mercedes no longer has the advantage in front of Renault.
Also, Christian Horner said that Red Bull until Canada (when the first major Renault upgrade should come) has no chance of catching Mercedes and Ferrari and Helmut Marko confirmed that his team was lagging both on engine and the chassis side.
BAHRAIN GP SPEED TRAP QUALIFYING
|1||Stroll||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||333.3|
|2||Hamilton||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||331.0|
|4||Perez||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||330.3|
|6||Massa||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||329.7|
|9||Wehrlein||Ferrari 056/5 (2015.)||329.1|
|10||Bottas||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||328.6|
|11||Ocon||Mercedes M08 EQ Power +||327.8|
|14||Ericsson||Ferrari 056/5 (2015.)||324.6|