The Red Bull camp is mystified by one of the worst kept secrets in Formula 1 right now, which is the sudden improvement in the Mercedes power unit since the British Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows famously struggled against Red Bull in two races in Austria because of a straight-line speed deficit.
Until then, Red Bull appeared to hold a favorable advantage over Mercedes when it came to straight-line speed. However, things changed at Silverstone, where Mercedes brought a major upgrade package.
Somehow, since then, the German marque has not only had the upper hand over Red Bull in terms of straight-line speed, but the gap between the two teams is day and night.
The deficit was particularly apparent during the Turkish Grand Prix, when Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton were battling it out down the start-finish straight. Despite running higher downforce, Hamilton was able to pull away from Perez.
Speaking to Sky Sports about Mercedes' power gains, Christian Horner said:
"Something is strange there. It is for the FIA to look at and for them to police, but the straight-line speed…when you’ve got straight-line speed that is greater with a DRS open, that is pretty impressive.”
Mercedes favorite in four of six tracks, feels Helmut Marko
Helmut Marko, Red Bull's head of driver development, felt that Red Bull were scratching their heads to try and address the considerable disparity in straight-line speed between the two cars. Speaking to F1-Insider.com, he said:
“It is a mystery to me what power Mercedes has found in terms of power in the drive sector since the race at Silverstone. At the moment, I only see two races where we have an advantage, because of the altitude – Mexico and Sao Paulo. Mercedes is currently the favorite at the four other tracks."
Max Verstappen has been more or less on a damage limitation exercise since the summer break. Except for the Dutch Grand Prix, where power was not a decisive factor, Red Bull have been on the backfoot at every race because of Mercedes' considerable pace advantage.
With just six points separating the two drivers, it's going to be interesting to see which way the tide will turn by the time we see the checkered flag fly in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.