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Mercedes points to twin factors behind 'yo-yo' performance

The fight behind Red Bull in 2023 has been mixed with no team able to steal an advantage and break away.

Hamilton Belgium Sprintrace
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes' Andrew Shovlin has pointed to two factors he believes are responsible for the 'yo-yo' performance of teams behind Red Bull.

Across the 12 races of 2023 thus far, Red Bull has won all 12 with its RB19 threatening to sweep the board such is the pace advantage as Max Verstappen looks set to claim a third world title.

While Mercedes is currently second in the Constructors', the second-best team has varied across the season with Aston Martin, Ferrari and even the resurgent McLaren stepping up on any given weekend to challenge Red Bull.

This has meant no team is able to break away and focus on reeling in Red Bull, with Trackside Engineering Director Shovlin detailing the twin factors he believes is responsible.

Shovlin's theories

"There'll be track-specific elements, we looked quite good in Barcelona on maximum downforce, but the fact is, you can't design your car for every single circuit," Shovlin told media including RacingNews365.

"You’re seeing the nature of the corner speed, ride [quality] is a big factor can come into it, whether it's an overheating circuit [for the tyres] or one where it's tricky to get the tyres to work, whether the balance is more oversteery, all of those things will change the relative performance.

"Then on top of that, you've got a pretty aggressive development race going on and you can see that with the steps that Williams made, that McLaren made.

"People are bringing a lot of performance and the phasing of that is starting to juggle the order a bit."

Despite teams making huge inroads to move among themselves, none have been able to eat into the gap to Red Bull, with Verstappen winning the Hungarian Grand Prix by 33s from Lando Norris and finishing 32s ahead of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari in Belgium.

Shovlin believes this locked in advantage is simply down to the fact that the RB19 was already a strong package when it was launched.

"The way the rules are, if you launch a competitive car, in a cost cap, it is quite difficult for teams to catch up," he said.

"Because if you've got a competitive car, you don't need to be throwing updates at it week in, week out. They started in a very good place.

"The fact is our wind tunnel resource is not very different to theirs and not very different to Ferrari’s so that initial performance advantage you start with – and it has come down over the year – but when you look at how big it was in Bahrain and Jeddah, it's always difficult to shut that down in terms of the championship."

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