F1 Racing Competitive Advantage


Too afraid to ask this in the F1 sub would probably end up with them roasting me.

I’ve read that some F1 principles have said it’s 33.33% car, 33.33% engine, and 33.33% driver.

Can someone explain why there can be such domination by certain teams (Mercedes 2010s/ RB currently) given that there are only 4 different engines being used between the 20 cars? Also you would think each team has top technicians there would be an extremely high level of expertise here, especially with turnover and shared knowledge when new techs join a new team.

Is it that while all cars are extremely fast minor little tweaks can cause such a drastic difference? Max started 9th in miami and breezed his way into the lead even passing up his teammate in the same car (I know different tires at different points). The announcers mentioned (maybe I heard wrong) that with his DSR his car 15mph on the others.

Thank you!

In: 1

One thing you have to consider in F1 is the budget of the teams.

The advantage of the big teams is bought mainly with their bigger budgets, and F1 is setup to pay the better performing teams more so it’s a constant spiral where the haves will beat the have nots.

There is a cost cap now meaning that teams can no longer spend an unlimited amount of money on the sport, but there is still a huge difference between the teams.

The big teams Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes in 2021 spent more than double the midfield teams (Renault, Mclaren), and triple the minnows (Haas, Williams)

This means more facilities, more staff, better equipment, etc

Mercedes in particular out spent everyone, hired all the best engineers and held onto them, then manipulated the politics of the sport to produce a Turbo-hybrid engine that they already had a prototype of so they had a 2 year head start on everyone else…

That aside having a works engine deal is considered a huge advantage. While many teams run Mercedes engines, only the Mercedes team gets any real say in how the engine and design and is packaged. These incremental changes are worth tenths a lap.

In the past Mercedes also intentionally turned down the performance of their customers engines. They aren’t allowed to do that anymore. Ferrari similarly used to lease their customer teams year old engines to maintain their advantage. They can’t do that anymore either.

Another thing is the “unfair advantage” or the Gadget. Teams also find very clever ways to get around the rules to get an advantage in F1. The F-duct, S-ducts, FRIC suspension, DAS, the Benetton Traction control, the Double Diffuser, etc. These are often legal for just a year and then get banned.

Speaking specifically of Verstappen the Red Bull is suspected to have a gadget on the rear suspension that causes it to collapse at speed. When you enable the DRS the rear of the car squats down noticeably which stalls the diffuser and gives the car more top speed. The teams know exactly what Red Bull are doing but haven’t figured out how to put it on their own cars yet.

The numbers aren’t literal, but they describe the main factors.

Expert drivers still get different times on multiple trials on the same setup. Nobody’s perfect. They also need to realize when to adjust things on the car to make it better.

Better engine means better speeds, so that’s always good, but it needs more control too.

Age the car can have hundreds of tiny modifications that can give it more control, so two of the same design with same engine could still perform very differently.

And all this goes out the window if you’re stuck behind someone who is maneuvering in a way to keep you behind them.