Andrew Shovlin, the Trackside Engineering Director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, was delighted to see Lewis Hamilton take victory in the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday, the one-hundredth victory for the team since they returned to Formula 1 in 2010.
Hamilton led home a Mercedes one-two ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, although it was far from a straightforward afternoon for the pair as they endured safety cars, red flags and standing restarts.
Initially it was Bottas with the advantage after making a better start than Hamilton, but the first standing restart saw the roles reversed, and the Briton was never headed again despite another red flag and standing restart late in the day.
“That’s the 100th win since Mercedes returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2010 and a really proud milestone for everyone in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart,” said Shovlin. “What a race though! Plenty of starts kept it pretty exciting.
“Lewis lost out at the first one with a bit of wheelspin off the line. Valtteri also had a tough time with marbles on the left-hand side of the grid for the final restart and lost a place to [Daniel] Riccardo.”
The standing starts were challenging, but Shovlin feels the early safety car period and the subsequent restart was perhaps even more of a challenge, with the first red flag being caused by a pile-up towards the back of the field as they seemed to misjudge Bottas’ attempt to get the race restarted.
“The Safety Car restart was probably more challenging than the race start itself,” said Shovlin. “We’d spent a long time this morning talking it through, we knew that the Safety Car lights would go out really late which meant the lead driver can’t go early as everyone will sit in their tow and pass.
“Valtteri was controlling the pace at that stage and timed it well, but behind him it looked like a few cars had gone slightly too early and it caused a bit of chaos which brought out the red flag.
“It was one of those races where it’s normally hard to stay in front, as it’s so hard to guess what’s going to happen next. But the team and drivers did a fantastic job and it’s a really nice way to finish this triple header.”
“What an unbelievable race today with so many red flags and restarts” – Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport and the Team Principal at Mercedes, praised both drivers for putting in strong performances at Mugello, which helped the team extend their advantage at the head of the Constructors’ Championship heading into the next round in Russia later his month.
Mercedes were one of only two teams, along with Scuderia Ferrari, to reach the chequered flag with both cars as they were able to avoid the ‘scary’ looking crash on the safety car restart and stay out of trouble pretty much all afternoon long.
“What an unbelievable race today with so many red flags and restarts,” said Wolff. “There was so much going on and it proved to be quite a tough day for all the teams.
“First of all, I’m glad to see that everybody is safe and okay after the incidents during today’s race. The crash on the main straight looked very scary, as did Lance’s off.
“For us, it was a great race and a fantastic result for the team with a 1-2 finish at Mugello. Both of our drivers put in very strong performances and it’s just what we’d hoped for. Well done to everyone in the team.
“To extend the lead in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships feels good and now we have one weekend off, before we go again in Russia.”