After Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen were being tipped as hot favourites for Grand Prix victory, The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team will be overjoyed to come away with victory and an early constructors championship lead.
Victory’s like this remind everyone at Mercedes and Andrew Shovlin – Chief Trackside Engineer at Mercedes why they do this job, everyone at both factory’s has been working hard since pre-season testing but a victory is a just reward for all the hours that have been put in. Before the race, the hope was that they could put Max under pressure but in fact they were able to go one step further and take Grand Prix victory.
“Days like today remind us why we do this! Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth have been working flat out since the test; we knew that we had our work cut out but today was a great reward for all the extra hours that everyone has been putting in. Our hope going into the race was that we’d be able to put Max under a bit of pressure. Lewis did that brilliantly and was able to stay within undercut range which enabled him to take the lead at the first stop.”
Hamilton pushed the tyres at the start of his second stint, but he started to lose time and had to make a pitstop. This was earlier than the team had originally intended but Verstappen was close enough to force the undercut so a move was needed.
“He pushed the tyres pretty hard at the start of that second stint to gain the position and we were starting to drop too early. That’s what forced us to come in when we did. It was earlier than we’d have liked but Max was close enough to try and undercut Lewis so we had to make a move.”
Valtteri Bottas had a strong second stint, would’ve been able to undercut Verstappen if he hadn’t of had a slower pit stop. This also allowed the Belgian driver to go longer on his tyres meaning he would have fresher tyres at the end of the Grand Prix. Once this had happened they didn’t believe they would win but Hamilton showed his quality in being able to hold of Verstappen for the win.
“A few seconds behind, Valtteri was having a strong middle stint, and although we didn’t have the gap to undercut Max, we boxed at a point where we thought they may be afraid to go to the end and wondered if they would let us undercut them and take second place.
“Unfortunately, we had a problem at the stop and lost precious seconds and places which prevented Valtteri from being in the mix at the end, but it also allowed Max to offset his strategy to Lewis. Honestly, once that had happened, we didn’t think we’d win, but Lewis did an amazing job with the tyre management and defending.”
Shovlin is aware that the championship fight is close so taking the opportunity to go for the fastest lap with Bottas was a no-brainer earning an extra point in the process.
As great as it is to finish the weekend leading both championships, Mercedes are well aware that the championship is by no-means ‘wrapped up.’ Even though progress has made, Red Bull currently have the better package so if improvements are not made this lead may be short-lived.
“We’re well aware this championship will be close so when we had an opportunity to go for fastest lap with Valtteri we took it, earning him and the team the extra point. It’s great to walk away from here leading the championship but we’re under no illusions that this will anything other than an incredibly difficult championship to win.
“We’ve made good progress in the last week or so, but Red Bull have the better package at the moment and if we don’t improve, our lead may be short-lived.”