Mercedes can't account for 0.5s lost in Verstappen French GP undercut

Mercedes still cannot account for half a second of the time Lewis Hamilton lost in the pits when Max Verstappen got the jump in Sunday’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

Mercedes can't account for 0.5s lost in Verstappen French GP undercut

Hamilton was able to take the lead at Paul Ricard on the opening lap after Verstappen made a mistake at Turn 2, and worked to create a small gap through the first stint.

But when Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 19, he emerged from the pits behind Verstappen, who had come in one lap earlier and made the fresher tyres work to his advantage.

It paved the way for Verstappen to win the race for Red Bull after switching to a two-stop strategy, passing Hamilton again on the penultimate lap to extend his championship lead.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained after the race that the team’s modelling system thought Hamilton was safe from the undercut thanks to the gap he had opened up to Verstappen.

“We thought when we had just over three seconds to Max, we were safe from the undercut, and that wasn't the case,” Shovlin said.

“Even now, we don't fully understand why our models were telling us that we would have been OK. So clearly there's something we need to go off and understand there.”

PLUS: How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

Shovlin said Mercedes had been caught out by the performance of the hard tyre on the outlap for Verstappen, but there was still had half a second missing from its analysis of the time lost that it could not account for.

“The hard tyre was good, and it was it was good out of the box,” Shovlin said.

“But that's the bit we still need to go through because we haven't yet understood quite why we lost the position.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, leads Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, leads Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

“We can account for about two and a half seconds of the three seconds. But it's something that we need to dig into the fine detail to understand how we were undercut from so far back because we weren't expecting that.”

Mercedes had triggered the early pit stops at the front of the pack by bringing Valtteri Bottas in at the end of lap 17, fearing he was at risk of a failure after picking up a vibration on his set of mediums.

There was a window for Mercedes to bring Hamilton in one lap later, but Shovlin explained that the team thought it was still early if it wanted to make the hards last to the end.

“It was uncomfortably early to go to the end, which, I think as the race played out, you saw that that was the case,” Shovlin said.

“And also the concern on Valtteri’s car was that he was getting an increasing vibration that was getting worse and worse every lap, that was starting to get to levels where we will box the car for reliability concerns.

“So really, the focus was on making sure that we didn't have an issue on track with him, so that was why we did it.

“In reality, Valtteri's stop triggered, the pit stops at the front of the grid. And that was what drove us to having to do a very long, long stint with Lewis.”

shares
comments

Related video

Abu Dhabi approves new layout plan for F1 track to improve racing

Previous article

Abu Dhabi approves new layout plan for F1 track to improve racing

Next article

Why Verstappen wasn't punished for breaching track limits protocol

Why Verstappen wasn't punished for breaching track limits protocol
Load comments
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Plus

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says MARK GALLAGHER, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat Plus

The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt Plus

The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model? Plus

Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model?

Formula 1 provided its clearest example yet of what the 2022 cars are set to look like when it presented a full-scale concept to the world during the build-up to last weekend’s British Grand Prix. Underneath the special shiny livery was a design that hinted at the future, but teams will be digging into key areas that may reap differing results

Formula 1
Jul 20, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021