James Allison admitted that it was a tough Canadian Grand Prix for the Mercedes AMG Motorsport team despite Lewis Hamilton taking his fifth victory in seven races on Sunday.
Hamilton’s race was in jeopardy leading up to the start when his engineers discovered a hydraulic leak on his car, meaning the W10 was taken apart and reassembled on Sunday morning, with the work continuing almost until the time the car left the pit lane to assemble on the grid.
Despite this, Hamilton was able to take the start and shadowed Sebastian Vettel until the chequered flag, inheriting the win when the German was handed a five-second time penalty for re-joining the track in a dangerous manner after a mistake at turn three on lap forty-eight.
“It’s been a hot, hard and difficult day in the office, not just for our two drivers, who raced strongly in the heat today, but also for the whole team,” said Allison. “A hydraulic leak caused us to have to do a lot of work on Lewis’ car in the morning and was not at all easy to get the car ready for the race.
“The mechanics did tremendous work to get everything prepared and ready. For a race weekend that had started pretty strongly, our races were very tough.”
For Valtteri Bottas, a mistake-strewn Qualifying session on Saturday left him out of position at the start, and he fell in behind the two Renault F1 Team drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg, at the start before passing them both after they all made their mandatory pit stops.
Once in clear air, it was a much different race for him, with the pace so much better, but by then he was too far adrift of the top three to challenge for a podium, instead taking the late gamble on a second pit stop to go for the fastest lap. However, his run of podiums since the start of the season was broken at the seventh opportunity.
“Valtteri was able to make really decent progress and good pace in free air, but it was a different thing altogether getting past those really quite quick Renaults in front of him,” said Allison.
“Eventually having done that, he made a good fist of getting into fourth place.”
Allison felt the pressure Hamilton was putting onto Vettel was the catalyst for the Scuderia Ferrari’s mistake that ultimately cost him the race, but despite inheriting the win, it would have been more preferential for Mercedes to win the race in the more conventional manner – on the track.
“Lewis had one of the hardest races with us for some while, having to wring every last drop out of the car to keep up with a very hard charging Sebastian,” said Allison.
“You could say that the incident which gave rise to the penalty was a result of the pressure that Lewis was putting on him and therefore you can take some satisfaction from the win, but it clearly doesn’t feel quite as joyful to win under these circumstances – however well-earned – as it does in a more conventional manner.
“But it was a really great drive by Lewis today and he got the just rewards for his efforts.”