Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Mercedes’ ride height trick “not something they’ve just introduced” – Horner

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suspects rivals Mercedes have had a means of lowering their ride height on straights to boost their top speed for several races.

Footage from the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago showed Valtteri Bottas’ W12 lowering itself on the straight during the race at Istanbul Park. This is believed to stall the car’s diffuser, increasing its straight-line speed, a strength Red Bull noted after the last race.

Asked whether Red Bull could respond to the innovation, Horner said: “We’ve got to focus on our strengths. It’s not something that they’ve just introduced.”

He suspects the system may be more powerful at some venues than others. “I think it works well at some circuits, perhaps it’s not as use-able at others,” Horner said. “We will see.

“We’ve got some interesting venues coming up that have got all kinds of different challenges so it’s going to stretch both teams to the limit.”

Reliability remains a concern for Mercedes, who have accepted another grid penalty for Bottas this weekend after exceeding his maximum allocation of power unit parts for the third time.

“They’re obviously weighing up that risk versus reward,” commented Horner. “It’s very unusual for Mercedes [who] have been obviously the benchmark of reliability the last six, seven years. It’s unusual that they’re in this situation.”

“We are pushing them hard this year,” he added. “We’re really throwing everything at this season and pretty much every race we’ve managed to give him a hard time.”

Many teams have ceased development of their cars in order to focus on the new technical regulations coming into force next year. However Horner indicated Red Bull could still bring updates to the RB16B before the final race of the season in less than two months’ time.

“Obviously 2022 is a big factor within all the teams at the moment, so it’s making the best of what we have,” he said. “If there’s something that we can get on the car, obviously we will.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Mercedes’ ride height trick “not something they’ve just introduced” – Horner”

  1. Trick? Slightly disingenuous? I believe it’s called technical innovation & or development?

    1. It would be of they’d done it, but if their rivals innovate and gain an advantage, it’s a short trick which must be banned. This isn’t unique to RBR, of course, most teams will do this.

    2. Technical innovation and development is what Mercedes does. When other teams do it they’re dirty cheaters. But when you have a second pace advantage in hand for a decade, everything’s completely legal

    3. No there is no innovation in that! If you studied mechanical engineering with more focus on vehicle dynamics and suspension geometry you should know that this effect in particular can be achieved by suspension geometry affecting the car’s axis of roll. If Newey doesn’t know that then I don’t know what to say and stay polite.

      1. Right, because one of the greatest car designers in the history of F1, doesn’t understand the basics of engineering and needs a lesson from some armchairexpert on the internet…

      2. Boomerang, I would say it is more likely to be a case of politicking by Newey to shape perceptions and to create a narrative in the media to put pressure on Mercedes.

        This is, as you say, nothing new in the sport – we know that because the FIA had already raised the matter with the teams in the past in Technical Working Groups. In the past, all of the teams have asked that this be retained – not only has Red Bull has known about this for years, they actively lobbied for this to be retained in the regulations because they have also been doing the same thing.

        1. @anon
          I agree. I am not an expert, but seeing RB (or any other team’s) cars producing so much sparking on the straights makes me think that their ride height is changing with the speed as well.

          1. Of course it is. That’s the effect of increasing pressure on the wing that pushes the car down.
            But that’s not “the trick” it’s dependable on the position on track that seems to influence the spring reaction. If it’s an active component its illegal if its passive its legal.

          2. @sinewave that’s mainly because the teams are doing a similar thing – note that Horner hasn’t yet asserted that there is anything that is actually illegal about what Mercedes are doing, and indeed no other teams seem to have an issue with this either. It’s also commonplace enough across motorsport as a whole that you can buy the components off the shelf from current suppliers – it can all be done passively using standard suspension components.

            Maybe it would be rather more useful if this site perhaps put together a piece doing a more detailed comparison between cars?

    4. @wildbiker if it works as the media suggests then it is a holeshot device, straight out of motogp, 2 to 3 year old tech.

      To me it looks like they are dropping the rear everywhere, corners included, they are running loads of rear camber and still getting the traction, the car looks glued to the road. To me look much more than an attempt at stalling the diffuser or getting the rear wing to stall. At times the nose looks a little high on acceleration which suggests the rear is being dropped but I would not be surprised they are controlling both front and rear ride, just like ducati in motogp. Does not feel like something new to merc remember fric? Finally, hydraulic suspension is banned for 2022.

    5. @wildbiker As long as we’re clear it is not CH calling it a ‘trick’ but is a choice of word by the authors for the heading of the article.

  2. On sky f1 during FP2, Button said that his BAR already had this gimmick.

    1. Isn’t that Mercedes F1 team was actually from Brawn GP/BAR Honda? Means they actually using it for more than a decade until now only Red Bull spotted it?

    2. You have to listen a bit more carefully. Button talked on bending rear wings.

  3. Surely if the ride height is lowering on the straights and raising for corners, it would be in breach of the regulations as a reactive ride height adjustment.

    1. Then you can ban suspension altogether, because that alters the ride height too @maddme

      1. @john-h It may set the ride height, but, does not allow for adjustment beyond the spring/damper deflection whilst on the circuit.

        1. @maddme frics is banned, that was an active control. this is using legal components and passively achieving the goal! every team set their ride height with aero pressures in mind, so there is nothing illegal. what was illegal with RB was rear wings were bending/deflecting backwards so much that it was creating free drs for the car. Mercedes is using the suspension settings. Regulations using suspension vs wings is different matter. How do people adjust ride height do you think?

          1. @mysticus Did I mention FRIC? No, because I know it is banned!

            Reactive Ride height is something that allows for height adjustment during the race, which this alludes to was banned back in 2012!

            I suggest you actually read comments before making a comment!

          2. @maddme RRH is something similar (hydraulics systems use) to FRIC one used braking hydraulics systems other was much more sophisticated… if what you say was used, it would be found quite easily i believe. RB are one that use such clever tricks to play with ride height are no strangers to concepts but i doubt mercedes would stoop to such levels… they have a big brand image as a car manufacturer, RB on the other hand has no shame doing such systems… so obviously first thing they suspect is “tricks”

            today’s quali shown, RB used better “TRICKS” for the quali… out of the blue came such speeds… one wonders what da “TRICK”

  4. Last year DAS now RHA Ride Height Adjustment.

    1. I KNOW!!! Merc are pretty awesome, no?

      1. They are indeed.
        If it was Redbull you called it illegal I guess :)

        1. That’s for sure.

  5. If this is legal, what was wrong with flexi wing?

    1. Not used by Mercedes, so must be illegal

  6. Mercedes having focused on 2022 a long time ago – and now this. That’s got to hurt RB and Horner.

    I have a feeling next year isn’t going to be good for them.

    On another note, the rear of that car is simply beautiful, god bless engineering.

    1. Not really. They still developed the car. Do not believe the toto story’s.

      1. No. RB have thrown virtually all their eggs into this season, as they quite understandably saw it as a great opportunity to win both titles. Something they’ve not done since 2013 – which must be horrendous for someone like Horner, who’s character is about winning and success.

        Of course Mercedes have kept their eye on this season, but it’s been obvious that they’ve seen 2022 as at least an equal priority and I fear that they are going to be very dominant once again.

        1. @banbrorace And you know this how? Personally I’ve not heard/read anything that would indicate RBR have sacrificed more than Mercedes for 2022 in favour of a title fight this season. But perhaps you have some reputable links to indicate such?

  7. Beautiful innovation. The fia removed mercs advantage at the start of the season with the aero changes. Which did slow them down due to their low rake design. But now the mercs have used the very thing that made them Weak and turned it into a strength. Simply amazing.

    1. Great bunch of winners, that’s Mercedes team! Not to mention if you rake your car at the high angle as RBR does there is no room to exploit this simple solution without disrupting the floor and diffuser airflow. I refuse to use language of Max Verstappen to express my sentiment about Newey and co.

  8. Definitely an innovation because everyone knows that in a straight, the air speeding up over the car create a low pressure pulling the body up and effectively raising the car ride. Mercedes managed to invert physics laws.

    Oh wait, not how it works?
    *put your sarcastic glasses on if you didn’t have them already *

  9. why dont horner and red bull just concentrate on their cars. all they do is look for ways to challenge mercedes in the office rather than on the track.

  10. This is getting boring.

    If it’s not Max moaning about been overtaken. We get Horner, with his constant sly digs at Mercedes. The three not so wise monkeys ( the third ‘member’ – Marko makes Ecclestone look like some mute diplomat) are brilliantly entertaining.

    Thing is they’ve still got a great chance – but you wouldn’t think it looking at their current ‘body language’

    1. I agree. Possibly the least likable F1 team in history. Only reason Max got the most popular driver is because literally all of Holland voted for him. The fact McLaren got the most loved F1 team speaks volumes.

    2. @banbrorace And what say you about all the sniping LH and TW did from the start of the season regarding the floor change, the flexy wing, tire pressures, pit stops, and engine upgrades? Nothing I suppose.

      1. Robbie I’ve seen you make a habit out of posting nonsense. Take a step back and a break and focus on your real life because hopefully for you this site isn’t a big part of your life. You should really know that there is a big difference between Red Bull and most other teams, they deserve all the criticism they get plus some more. First off who the hell supports a team founded on making disgusting drinks lol. They are the least sporting of all teams and that’s saying something considering Ferrari are in F1. I’m not sure if you’re actually a Red Bull supporter but if not it makes your comment even worse if you’re just playing devil’s advocate.

        1. Red bull the least sporting? More like mercedes.

        2. Semaj I’ll take my ‘nonsense’ over your tabloid rhetoric any day.

        3. No James, changing your perspective does not make your nonsense reality.

  11. Honer knows the FIA have rejected their enquiry about the Mercedes improvements in performance so he talks about it being a ‘trick’ to put a negative spin on it. But most teams have looked at the same suspension configuration but seem not to have been able to make it work as well as Mercedes.

    So Horner is covering up the RedBull failure to innovate that way by attacking Mercedes.

    1. Except that Horner isn’t the one calling it a trick.

  12. Maybe if Newey did not have the biking-accident which kept him away for four months RBR would have something similar. They really miss out on the straights which might cost them the championship now.

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