Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin: “Our HyperSoft stints were weak on both cars”

by Paul Hensby
Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Andrew Shovlin admitted it was a frustrating afternoon at the Circuit de Monaco on Sunday as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished where they started, while both drivers suffered with their tyres during the seventy-eight lap race in the principality.

Hamilton started and finished third and Bottas fifth, with both suffering graining issues with the Hypersoft Pirelli tyre, which was having its first race outing in Monaco, with Hamilton also suffering similar issues using the Ultrasoft tyre in the second stint.

Bottas used the Supersoft for his second stint and had much better performance from them but he was unable to capitalise on that as he found himself stuck behind Kimi Räikkönen’s Ultrasoft-shod Scuderia Ferrari SF71-H.

Shovlin, the Chief Race Engineer at Mercedes, feels there is work to be done to understand how to deal with the Hypersoft and quickly, as it’s next outing comes in two weeks time at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix.

“It was a frustrating afternoon in many ways, we finished where we started and never really had much opportunity to do any more,” said Shovlin.  “Our HyperSoft stints were weak on both cars, we suffered graining early on and fell back so stopped Lewis quite early for UltraSoft to avoid losing race time.

“Valtteri had a similar issue but we kept him out a bit longer as it wasn’t really impacting his race. Our championship rivals were better at managing the HyperSoft today and we need to understand and improve before Montreal as it’s likely to be even trickier there.

“With Valtteri we decided to try the SuperSoft tyre as Lewis was feeling that the ultra was quite delicate and needed managing. This seemed to work well in terms of pace, with Valtteri catching the cars ahead quite quickly but there was no way to pass so he had a rather frustrating afternoon following Kimi for 46 laps.

“Lewis was concerned that he wouldn’t get his tyres to the end as they opened up early on but after some degradation they stabilised and he was able to keep pace with Vettel who seemed to have similar issues and Riccardo who was struggling with a power unit problem.

“Towards the end of the race, the midfield cars closed up which took away any real options to do anything under a safety car, so we just focused on bringing the cars home.”

One of the positives Shovlin can take away from Monaco is that Mercedes still hold the advantage in both the Drivers and Constructors’ Championships, however it is clear that work needs to be done in order to eliminate the weaknesses that were highlighted in the principality.

“Happily we’ve not suffered too much of a dent in our championship today and we didn’t come here expecting to be the benchmark, so overall we are not too disappointed,” said Shovlin.  “However, whilst Montreal should suit our car more, the tyres will play a big role in the strategy there and unlikely Monaco, you can overtake.

“So, we’ll be working hard over the next few days to make sure we understand our weaknesses. We had a tough weekend in Monaco last year and finished first and second in Montreal a few days later so we are confident that we can recover our form and will be aiming to do just that.”

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