Bottas gamble triggered Hamilton Sochi F1 intermediate tyre call

Mercedes says Lewis Hamilton’s critical switch to intermediate tyres that helped win him Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix was helped by his teammate Valtteri Bottas gambling on an earlier change.

Bottas gamble triggered Hamilton Sochi F1 intermediate tyre call

Hamilton had looked all set to finish behind leader Lando Norris in the closing stages of the Sochi race, before a late downpour turned the race on its head.

As the rain blew in, Norris elected to stay out on slicks while Mercedes convinced Hamilton to move over to inters – which ultimately proved to be the right choice.

Reflecting on why Mercedes got it right, on an afternoon that McLaren got it wrong and cost Norris victory, the team’s head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin says his outfit was boosted by knowledge of how the tyres were performing on Bottas’s car.

“The key to it was how you were interpreting the weather forecast,” explained Shovlin. “As you know, all the teams, we've got the same rain radar, we could see the rain coming in, and we could see that it was going to start light.

“What we could see was that it was then going to get heavier. And that was really the thing that we were reacting to.

“But, in some ways, our decision making was helped by the fact that Valtteri was out of the points and he had nothing to lose: so we were the first to make the jump.

“Then seeing how the tyres were working on his car we followed suit with Lewis soon after. And certainly not leading the race makes it a bit easier to take those decisions.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, takes victory to the delight of his team on the pit wall

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, takes victory to the delight of his team on the pit wall

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mercedes had called Hamilton in for inters a lap earlier than he eventually did, but that request was ignored because the world champion was convinced that sticking with slicks was best.

But eventually critical information about the team's prediction for the weather, plus explaining how title rival Max Verstappen had stopped, won Hamilton over.

“The key point that we were thinking to get across to him was that Max had stopped,” said Shovlin.

“With Max having stopped, then he's certainly keen that we shadow what he's doing: even if it meant that we might leave the door open for Lando to take the win.

“And the other thing we just had to get across was that we thought the rain was going to get heavier. Therefore jumping early was going to be better.

“So it's just with all these things, it's very much a case of getting the right information to the driver, because we were quite clear what we wanted to do.

"They haven't got the luxury of rain radars and things like that, so it’s just a case of making sure that they can understand why it is we're trying to take that decision.”

shares
comments

Related video

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1
Previous article

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Next article

The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling

The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling
Load comments
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022