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Red Bull Racing

Red Bull struggle with revamped car as Mercedes make great strides

Qualifying at Silverstone gave some big surprises, with Mercedes enjoying a 1-2, while Ferrari and Max Verstappen could not challenge at the front. RacingNews365's technical expert Paolo Filisetti takes a look at the performance.

Verstappen Qualifying Silverstone
To news overview © XPBimages

Qualifying from Silverstone deserves a careful analysis as it reflects a very specific situation. On Saturday, it became clear the latest development of the RB20 floor has not brought any real performance improvement to the car at this circuit. 

The solid performance of Mercedes also stands out, alongside the once again very strong McLaren.

After further analysis, it appears the most balanced F1 car of the weekend is Mercedes' W15. Through the fast combination of Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel, the Brackley-based team was overwhelmingly the best. In this section of the track, the rapid changes of direction show how well the front end of the car reacts and how much traction a car possesses.

Qualifying marked further confirmation that, since the Canadian Grand Prix, the W15 has found a wider 'window' that maximises performance. The drivers themselves acknowledge the substantial change in the car's behaviour, despite the fact that no very extensive updates have been introduced. 

The major performance improvement is therefore due to a different mindset for determining the set-up. The engineers have found a procedure that involves optimising the overall balance of the car, rather than obtaining high downforce levels.

Mercedes actually adopted a strategy opposite to that of Ferrari, especially in determining the latest development package. Indeed, the Italian team's goal in its latest update was to achieve a radical increase in downforce. 

But that objective failed completely; indeed, the team from Maranello went backwards more than forward. In practice, the downforce values seen on the simulator were never confirmed on the track, due to instability caused by the high load, creating porpoising again at the Italian team.

RB20 update does not work as expected

Last but not least is the analysis of the RB20 at Silverstone. In practice, the latest development, focused on the edge of the floor with a new angle of the lower air guides, worsened the predictability and consistency of the car's cornering behaviour.

It appears that variable pressure was generated under the centre section of the floor, which not only made the RB20 unpredictable, but also consistently generated understeer in the twisty sections of the Silverstone circuit.

These are exactly the issues Max Verstappen was already complaining about on Friday and what was even more exposed on Saturday due to the treacherous conditions.

The rain, of course, also plays a big role in this whole story. For example, Mercedes is driving with a much larger rear wing, which makes it seem that they have focused more on the predicted rain showers. 

Red Bull and McLaren, on the other hand, seem to have chosen more of a compromise which means they should have little trouble with the Silver Arrows in dry conditions, normally. 

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