Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin says that Mercedes would prefer to win on performance instead of through good fortune after Lewis Hamilton‘s fortunate victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton, team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes profited from a power unit problem for Scuderia Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc while the Monégasque was cruising to victory at the Bahrain International Circuit to take an unlikely second consecutive 1-2 finish to start the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Mercedes was on the back foot compared to Ferrari throughout the Bahrain weekend, with an average gap of 0.780 seconds to the ultimate pace in Free Practice.
Hamilton and Bottas managed to salvage some performance in Saturday’s qualifying session, but neither could get within three-tenths of a second to polesitter Leclerc’s pace.
Shovlin praised Mercedes’ performance under severe pressure and offered his encouragement to the impressive Leclerc.
“It would be nice in China if we can rely on our pace to get the win rather than good fortune,” said Shovlin.
“However, the team did work really well today under a lot of pressure our car has been perfectly reliable here all week which is great to see.
“It was really unfortunate for Charles today, he has impressed everyone with his speed and composure, so to lose the win through no fault of his own must be tough, but it looks like he won’t have to wait long for the next opportunity.”
Shovlin admitted that Mercedes had struggled with both raw power unit performance and rear-end grip on a difficult Bahrain track that was made trickier by windy conditions.
In the middle of his second stint on the soft compound tyres, Hamilton complained that his rear tyres were starting to expire, leaving him vulnerable to an attack by Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
He added that the upcoming two-day test in Bahrain on Tuesday and Wednesday should help Mercedes in ironing out some performance negatives.
“We’re delighted with the 1-2 today but well aware that we didn’t have the fastest car this weekend and we’ve got some work to do to catch Ferrari,” Shovlin said.
“We’ve lacked a bit of rear grip and a bit of straight line speed this weekend and this made qualifying and the race difficult.”
“We’ve got some developments to try at the test here that should help our speed in the corners.”