Formula 1

Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe: “There was a great deal of stress for us at the beginning”

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Großer Preis von Spanien 2016. Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe, was over the moon to see both drivers come home in first and second place at Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, after experiencing one of the toughest races of the season so far for the current world champions.

“It’s incredible to have our drivers on the top two steps here after a weekend with such close competition. It was a great drive from Lewis to take the win.

A big lock-up at the first corner saw driver Lewis Hamilton sustain a rather large flat spot, which caused the Brit to experience vibrations and seriously high suspension loads that could have caused a terminal failure, had they not been correctly managed.

The highly experienced Lowe can still recall the same sort of problem ruining the race of Kimi Raikkonen at the Nurburgring back in 2005, which saw the Finn’s suspension break on the final lap to cruelly take away a probable victory.

That very scenario was being played out in Lowe’s mind throughout Sunday’s race, and he just hoped the same fate would not plague Hamilton.

“There was a great deal of stress for us at the beginning of the race after he flat spotted a tyre at the first corner. The vibrations and corresponding suspension loads were above permitted limits. I remember painfully Kimi’s suspension failure in 2005 in similar circumstances.”

Not wanting to hamper the Brit’s race, knowing that a victory was required to keep him in the title battle, Lowe confirmed they chose to keep the Brit out and just hope nothing failed on the W07.

Luckily for the German squad, Hamilton was able to manage the situation allowing them to more or less stick to their pre-race strategy, though they did decide to pit him a few laps early.

“In this situation we knew that taking a precautionary pit stop would ruin Lewis’ race and potentially his Championship, so we chose to cross our fingers and run him to the first stop, which we took a little bit early because of that issue.

“From then on it was quite straightforward on his side of the garage and he managed the race well from the front.”

Kenyan born Lowe praised the whole team for working to secure the perfect result for the squad on Sunday, despite the hurdles they had experienced.

“Nico struggled a little bit more for pace and had a few scary moments with the challenge from Max and time loss through back markers. But he kept his head and got to the flag with a good margin in the end to take a well-earned P2 after a tricky weekend for him.

“A great job all round by the team and the drivers to get a perfect result at this fantastic race.”

The 54-year-old paid tribute to Hamilton for achieving his 51st victory and equalling the career win record of Alain Prost, who Lowe has also had the pleasure of working alongside during his time in F1, and he labelled the achievement as a very special feat.

“Finally congratulations to Lewis for matching the 51 wins of Alain Prost. I have had the privilege to work with both of these great World Champions, so that is a very special statistic to appreciate.”

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