Knife-edge F1 battle risks Red Bull/Mercedes development war

Red Bull fears it and Mercedes will have no option but to keep developing their 2021 Formula 1 cars long into the season if the title battle remains super close.

Knife-edge F1 battle risks Red Bull/Mercedes development war

The two teams have taken a victory apiece so far this year, with Lewis Hamilton winning the season opener in Bahrain and Max Verstappen triumphing at Imola last weekend.

With very little to choose in performance terms between the two cars, both teams are continuing to push hard to improve their packages as much as possible.

However, with F1 teams knowing they need to commit as much resource as possible to developing the all-new 2022 challenger, there will soon come a point where they will have to decide when to abandon the current project.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko reckons, however, that one of the consequences for his team and Mercedes if things remain as close is that both will have to keep pushing on beyond the point that is ideal to stop.

He is clear that Red Bull needs to knuckle down and do everything to win the title, which is why he welcomes the buzz the team's form has delivered.

Red Bull Racing RB16B

Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

"We need this euphoria, and also the passion and enthusiasm," he told Red Bull-owned channel ServusTV. "There are still 19 races to go [sic, 21 according to current schedule], and we have to give everything.

"The problem will come about before the summer break, when, theoretically, capacities will then be put on to the new development of the 2022 car.

"The only thing is: if we both continue to be so close together, I believe that neither Mercedes nor us - and certainly not us - will back down anywhere in development."

The performance gap between the Red Bull and Mercedes cars appears very small. The RB16B appears to be quicker over a single lap, but the W12 looks like it has an edge with tyre management over long runs.

Marko reckons at the moment that Mercedes has the advantage in race pace, although thinks cooler conditions in Imola influenced things a bit too.

"I think Mercedes had the faster car in Imola seen over the race distance," he said. "On the single lap we were faster. But I also think it has to do with the lower temperatures. Plus the handling of the tyres is also a bit better from the Mercedes chassis at the moment."

Read Also:

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes it will take another two races at least to get a proper picture on which teams holds the advantage in F1.

"I think we've now had a sample of two races and I always said it would take four races or so to see a true reflection of the competitive positions of each of the teams," he said.

"We're starting to see a pattern that its very, very tight between the cars, and Lewis and Max. And it's at the moment, marginal gains here and there.

"We see that they've got very good range and degradation. But definitely it [the Imola weekend] cements the pace that we had in both the Bahrain test and the Bahrain race.

"And I hope selfishly for us, but also I think for Formula 1, they're crying out for a great rivalry between these two drivers. The sport will benefit from that."

shares
comments
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Previous article

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Next article

Norris: Leclerc should have passed Verstappen at Imola F1 restart

Norris: Leclerc should have passed Verstappen at Imola F1 restart
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing , Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

Formula 1
May 9, 2021