Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished in second and third position in the sprint race for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team on Saturday in the sprint race at the 2021 British Grand Prix. It was a disappointing result because Hamilton started ahead of Max Verstappen but a poor start saw him lose ground on the first lap.
Hamilton was not able to recover after that even though he tried to close the gap in the final laps. But heavy blistering of the medium compoud tyres in the scorching heat at the Silverstone circuit saw Hamilton settle for second position.
After the previous two races in Austria where Red Bull Racing Honda and Verstappen had opened up a significant gap in performance, the Mercedes team appear to be closer to the Milton Keynes-based team at this race.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes Team Principal, said: “That was a pretty flat out first sprint race – it was a frustrating for Lewis to lose a point to Max this afternoon, but we saw that we had the pace to make it a very close race tomorrow. We will need to take a closer look to understand what happened at the start for Lewis – and I think if we had held the lead, we had the pace to finish in P1 as well because it wasn’t easy to follow.
“But it’s set up an interesting Grand Prix: there are two teams close on pace, we have Lewis and Valtteri in the mix at the front, and it looks like tyre strategy can play a big part in these temperatures as well. So we will be aiming to fight back strong in the Grand Prix proper.”
Andrew Shovlin – “Having the sprint race today does make it a little easier to plan for tomorrow”
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director, was encouraged by the performance of the two Mercedes drivers even though Hamilton lost a position in the sprint race. Shovlin said: “It’s not ideal to have lost a place with Lewis off the start but we can take some encouragement in the car pace which is hopefully enough to put Max under pressure tomorrow. We also have two cars at the front which will open up some strategic opportunities. After the first lap there wasn’t much that we could do; on the same age tyres it was hard for Lewis to get close enough to attack and for Valtteri, he was doing a bit more management to cover for the fact he was on the Soft tyre.
“Having the sprint race today does make it a little easier to plan for tomorrow as you’ve got a clear idea of everyone’s pace and how the tyres are behaving so we have a bit of work this evening to take the maximum learning from that. Our goal was to come here, to win and to close the gap in the Championship and I think from what we’ve seen over the last two days, that’s still an achievable target.”