"It does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade": Red Bull design team under the scanner as Mercedes director issues verdict

F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Qualifying
F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia - Qualifying

Red Bull's design team has been put under the scanner as Mercedes director James Allison feels that the team's upgrades this season have been a downgrade. The Austrian team kicked off the season in dominant fashion in Bahrain, where they were just out of reach.

The next race in Saudi Arabia saw a repeat, as Red Bull put together another 1-2 finish. Since then, the team has lost out in Australia, Monaco and Miami, though. Red Bull introduced its set of upgrades in Japan and Imola, but that has not seen the team maintain its advantage over the competition.

The last three races have been very competitive, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen only winning one, with the other two going to McLaren and Ferrari. Looking at Red Bull's trajectory, Mercedes technical director James Allison feels that the team's upgrades might have been for the worse, as the performance appears to have regressed. In the pre-race press conference, he said:

"I guess as soon as there's a decent range of cornering speeds, they'll be useful again, but it does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade," explained Allison at the Canadian Grand Prix about what he felt was going on at Red Bull. "So, fingers crossed that would really mess them up."

He added:

"That (an upgrade not working) makes life hard, because the moment you stop trusting your tools, you have to backtrack, and you lose loads of time. Time is your biggest friend, losing it is your worst enemy. Everyone always loves other people's misery in this game."

Mercedes not looking at challenging Red Bull in the short run

Mercedes have shown an impressive upturn in form in the last two races. At the start of the season, it appeared that the car was just too unpredictable and would be tough to tame. The last two races have shown that Mercedes can do a better job even though they are still the fourth-best team on the grid.

Despite the positive, James Allison is not looking too far ahead and challenging Red Bull. He said that the focus is entirely on building the car to a stronger platform:

"I have to confess, I'm not really thinking of it in big-picture terms like that. I'm just thinking where we are now appears to be somewhat better than we were two races ago. Hopefully, we will be somewhat better in a couple of races from now."

He added:

"We've gone from being really embarrassingly crap, not good enough, at the beginning of the year, to be near the fight. A little bit more will get us right in the melee."

Red Bull have certainly seen its aerodynamic advantage shrink in the last few races. It will be interesting to see what happens next as the rivals continue to close the gap.

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