Red Bull have had the quickest car all season, but “fumbled” the opening races of the 2021 Formula 1 season, according to F1’s Ross Brawn.
Giving his assessment of the season so far, Brawn is sure Red Bull have had the quicker car after showing dominant form in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.
However small errors gave Mercedes a chance to steal a march in the opening 2021 races, which saw Lewis Hamilton take three wins in four races.
The pendulum has very much swung in the other direction now with Red Bull winning four races in a row – the first time in the hybrid era that Mercedes has been beaten so consistently.
“Someone said to me after the race: ‘Do you think the change in the regulations hurt Mercedes?’ And I said let’s not forget at the end of last year, the Red Bull was probably the fastest car,” Brawn said in his latest F1 column.
“The change of regulations impacted everyone. How much each team was affected is difficult to judge. Red Bull are really starting to assert their authority.
“This is the fascinating thing about F1. Sometimes you win races you shouldn’t win. Sometimes you don’t win races you should win. It did feel at the beginning of the year that Red Bull, who were a very slick operation, fumbled a bit. But now they are back up to speed.”
The reigning champions outsmarted Red Bull on strategy at a couple of races but since the Spanish GP, Red Bull’s RB16B has very much looked the dominant. car.
“What looked to be the better car is now showing it in the results,” added Brawn. “At the beginning of the year, Mercedes out-raced them. That is not the case now. It’s been the opposite in the last couple of races. Mercedes are trying too hard, and they’ve stumbled a bit.”
Brawn feels it might now be too far into the season for Mercedes to claw its way back into the fight, given most teams have now switched their focus 100 per cent to next season and a major technical rules overhaul.
“It’s a very difficult year for Mercedes to come back because the focus is so strongly on next season – and the new regulations. Nothing can be done on the engine. Do they burn any resource on this car and sacrifice a bit for next year? I suspect not, as it’s so difficult to suddenly pick up the momentum on a car that you’ve probably stopped working on.
“They may try and race it more effectively, try and squeeze a bit more performance out of the set-up of the car, and how it’s working, but I don’t think we’re going to see any big upgrades or big changes in the car. They have to squeeze a bit more juice out of the lemon without putting too much resource into it which could negatively impact next year.”