Mercedes ‘trying to work out’ Verstappen’s advantage over Hamilton

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be wondering how Adrian Newey got the Red Bull car design so right, according to ex-British F1 driver and Fifth Gear star Tiff Needell. The former Ensign driver warns Mercedes concept “hasn’t worked” with the Silver Arrows trying to understand how Adrian Newey mastered the new regulations.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull have controlled the season with 11 wins to the Dutchman’s name. However, it’s Adrian Newey’s ground-effect design which has been praised for the team’s success in 2022.

Speaking to Express Sport, Needell said: “Obviously their concept hasn’t worked and they are slowly trying to work out what Adrian Newey did that they didn’t do. It seems to be a classic two steps forwards, one step back with Mercedes at the moment.

“We all dream of this day where three teams [can win]. Which this year could have almost happened. If Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes got their aero right we would have had the most amazing season.”

Hamilton himself singled out Newey as a major factor in Red Bull’s success ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. The seven-time champion admitted Newey “doesn’t build bad cars” and stressed it was “no surprise” Red Bull were dominating this season.

Hamilton explained: “They had a great car last year as well. I mean, Adrian Newey doesn’t generally build bad cars. He’s built amazing cars over the years. My first championship car was an evolution of his car.

“I know he did his thesis on ground-effect floors. It’s no surprise, to be honest. He’s one of the only ones that draw by hand, the design of cars.

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“So his understanding there has definitely been an advantage to them and they have done a great job.” Verstappen enjoys a 116-point advantage over nearest rival Charles Leclerc in the championship meaning he can mathematically secure his second crown next time out in Singapore.

The Red Bull star is just two victories off equalling the record for the most wins in a single F1 season. The record of 13 victories is currently held by both Michael Schumacher and ex-Red Bull star Sebastian Vettel.

Admitting to his advantage over the other teams, Newey commented: “I’m one of the few people that was around when ground effect was around first time. And porpoising, everyone Formula One talks about it as if it’s a new thing. It’s prevalent in LMP, the prototypes. It’s a known phenomenon that hasn’t been with the flat-bottomed cars but it’s obviously back with us.”

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