Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton dominated the Qatar Grand Prix, narrowing his gap to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen in the World Cup standings to eight points. The Dutchman limited the damage after a five-place grid penalty by finishing second and claiming the point for the fastest lap. According to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, the difference was made by Mercedes in Turn 6, something the team will be looking at extensively in the run-up to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“There’s one corner that made the difference all weekend and that’s Turn 6,” the Briton said of the slowest corner of the Losail International Circuit. “From Friday to Sunday we lost two tenths every lap in that corner. We need to find out the causes and that needs to be improved.”
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin acknowledges that the difference was made in the corners: “On a number of recent circuits we have matched Red Bull in the corners and gained an advantage on the straights. In Qatar it was exactly the other way around. We were equally quick on the straight and gained time in the corners. Where does that come from? Well, actually because of two things. One is the downforce you can generate. Our package worked very well allowing us to produce a lot of corner speed. But it’s also about the balance of the car. We do that with mechanical adjustments, suspension and rollbars, as well as with the front wing. Our riders were very happy with the balance they had. With that stability they were able to attack the corners, bring speed and you could see that in the fantastic lap that gave Lewis pole.”
Mercedes or Red Bull in favor in Abu Dhabi?
With the long straights and many full-throttle sections, the new street circuit in Jeddah seems to be a good fit for Mercedes, partly because Hamilton is getting its fresher engine from Brazil fitted again. Horner acknowledges that the track “should be in Mercedes’ favor”, but expect a spectacular season finale in Abu Dhabi if it comes to that. “Abu Dhabi with the changes implemented, who knows? It’s incredibly close together. We’re going into these final races with eight points ahead of the drivers, and we’ve narrowed the constructors’ lead to five points. Everything is still open and that is fantastic because this is the climax of this world championship.”