"Very unstable" Brazil weather could swing Red Bull-Mercedes battle

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes the "very unstable" weather in Brazil could impact the ongoing Formula 1 battle between Mercedes and Red Bull.

"Very unstable" Brazil weather could swing Red Bull-Mercedes battle

Max Verstappen opened up a 19-point lead over Lewis Hamilton at the top of the F1 drivers' championship by winning in Mexico on Sunday, marking his second victory in three weeks.

Red Bull also cut into Mercedes' constructors' championship advantage as Sergio Perez finished third, reducing the gap to just a single point with four races to go.

Red Bull has enjoyed a pace advantage against Mercedes in the last couple of races, leaving the German manufacturer looking to respond at Interlagos this weekend.

Shovlin noted that there were still big swings in performance between Mercedes and Red Bull, which was unusual for so late in the season, having seen his team dominate in Turkey just three races ago.

"Normally this far into the season you see the performance settle down a bit, and the swings are still big," Shovlin said.

"There will be circuits that will suit us. We had very strong races in Turkey and Sochi and plenty of strong races since the summer break. So it will be up and down, and we've definitely got our work cut out.

"I think on balance, they are a little bit ahead of us, but it'll get affected by the weather, the track temperatures - those will all play a part.

"But the biggest thing will be the circuit characteristics and it seems that when we're on an understeery track, we tend to go a little bit better.

"The last two races have been very much about rear tyre overheating, and you could say from what we've seen in the last fortnight, it's very clear they have the advantage when we're in that situation."

Bottas dominated F1's last wet weather race in Turkey

Bottas dominated F1's last wet weather race in Turkey

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Asked what the pecking order could look like in Brazil, Shovlin said it would "depend a bit on the weather there" as it "inherently is very unstable" at Interlagos.

The track has hosted a number of rain-affected races, most notably in 2008 and 2012 when the Brazilian Grand Prix decided the championship with wet-weather thrillers. The last wet race at Interlagos was in 2016 when Hamilton took victory.

Shovlin felt that warmer conditions would likely play to Red Bull's advantage, much as they did on race day in Mexico, but felt the weather would be impossible to predict.

"You can have 50 degree track one day, and it can be a washout the next," Shovlin said.

"I think if it is a hot circuit, then it is probably going to move it in their direction. A bit of cloud cover may well suit us, but one of the advantages they had [in Mexico] was they were able to go up a step on downforce from the rear wing they normally run to their max downforce wing.

"But actually for us, that's the one we run normally. It's just their car seems to have more downforce than us on identical sized wings, and I think that played into their favour.

"In Brazil that should be less of an issue, but it's very hard to predict.

"Very much as we did coming [to Mexico] we'll look at the weaknesses of our car, work out how to minimise them.

shares
comments

Related video

NASCAR champion Larson open to F1 test call-up in Abu Dhabi
Previous article

NASCAR champion Larson open to F1 test call-up in Abu Dhabi

Next article

Aston Martin F1 boss Szafnauer set for shock switch to Alpine

Aston Martin F1 boss Szafnauer set for shock switch to Alpine
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Plus

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility Plus

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022