One of Formula 1's most famous race engineers, Rob Smedley, has revealed whether he'd choose to fight for this year's championship with a Red Bull or a Mercedes.
Smedley, who was Felipe Massa's race engineer at Ferrari before moving to Williams as their Head of Trackside Operations, has spoken about this year's title fight.
He said that, thanks to the analysis he does in his current role as F1's Director of Data Systems, he suspects one of the cars has a slight edge on the other.
"First of all, both cars are very, very good, so we're really talking about nuances here," he told Tom Clarkson on the F1 Nation podcast.
"But the Red Bull probably has a little bit more downforce overall, and this was the same from the start of the season. It just seems to be slightly better balanced in high speed corners."
Smedley explained that both cars seem to have their own particular strengths.
"The Mercedes since the very beginning of the season... I have to say they've made great inroads on this, but certainly from all the analysis that we do, it's just not as nice to drive as the Red Bull in the high-speed corners," he said.
"Both Max [Verstappen] and Checo [Perez] look to be really comfortable throwing it in there with just a tinier lift than Valtteri [Bottas] and Lewis [Hamilton]. But then, certainly low -speed corners, there's not a great deal of difference between the two.
"If you take the straight line, Mercedes has always had a bit of an advantage, but it's probably stretching its legs a little bit now than what it was at the start of the season. So it's kind of nip and tuck and it's horses for courses."
Red Bull or Mercedes?
Smedley was asked to separate the driver and car package, and pick one of the cars if he was in a position to fight for the title with five races to go.
"If I was gonna go for car, I would go for the Red Bull," he said. "I think it's a slightly better car and it has been a better car all season.
"I read something over the weekend where Helmut Marko has said that Max has given away 50 points or something like that. Now, I don't know whether that's true. If you take the races where he hasn't finished, it might not be a net 50 points compared to Lewis, but it's certainly quite a few points that he's given away.
"I think that they've had the best car. I think they had a significantly better car at the start of the season, and they've, it's fair to say, failed to capitalise on that.
"But then, as the season's gone on, they've still kept that that small advantage. It's swung Mercedes' way on occasions but, overall, they've had the best car."
Verstappen vs Hamilton
Smedley was then asked to bring the driver back into the equation, and pick which of the two title protagonists will claim the title by the end of the next five Grands Prix.
"I've got to go with Lewis, because he's done it seven times before," he commented.
"Now, that's not to take anything away from Max, because Max is a once in a generation talent, but I think that Lewis has learned more of his craft than Max.
"He's done it seven times before, so if they were in identical cars with identical tyres for the five remaining races, I would still back Lewis at this point in time."
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