Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin: “We don’t seem to be as competitive here as in France”

by Paul Hensby

Andrew Shovlin said it was far from an easy day for the Mercedes AMG Motorsport team on Friday at the Red Bull Ring, with Valtteri Bottas in particular suffering thanks to engine issues and a 23G crash.

Bottas was forced to switch between engines twice throughout the day as an oil leak saw him revert to an old specification engine before the fixed power unit was replaced later in the day, but his afternoon session ended in a spectacular way as he lost control of his W10 at turn six, hitting the barriers hard and ending his day.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a more straightforward day, ending with the fastest time overall across the two session in the morning, and Shovlin was pleased the reigning World Champion was able to complete his planned programme, unlike Bottas.

“It hasn’t been an easy day,” said Shovlin.  “Valtteri’s crew were into a power unit change before running after we found an oil leak. We fitted his spare power unit for the morning and, while the session was running, the issue was fixed so the race power unit went back in for the afternoon.

“The balance wasn’t great in the first session, we were struggling to balance the low and high speed together, but we made good progress over the break and both drivers were happier with the car in the afternoon.

“Valtteri’s session unfortunately ended early after his crash which meant he couldn’t run the medium tyre on the long run,” he added.  “Lewis’s session was more straightforward. He was working on the Soft and Hard tyres and managed to complete the planned programme.”

Shovlin says Mercedes do not appear to have the same kind of pace advantage in Austria as they did just last weekend in France, but he admits that this is not a big surprise as the teams’ gains come through the corners, and there are only ten of them at the Red Bull Ring.

“We don’t seem to be as competitive here as in France but that’s not a big surprise; we’re missing the kind of cornering sequences that the car likes, so it’s hard to pull back all the time that they are finding on the straights,” said Shovlin.  

“We’re expecting the weather to get even hotter, which isn’t easy for the car or the tyres but hopefully it will make for an interesting race for the fans.”

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