Mercedes F1 team worried as Monaco hypersoft-avoiding tactic fails

Mercedes could now struggle to match its Formula 1 rivals' one-stop strategies in the Monaco Grand Prix after its bid to avoid using the hypersoft tyre failed

Mercedes F1 team worried as Monaco hypersoft-avoiding tactic fails

Amid doubts over the longevity of the hypersoft, several teams considered using the ultrasoft in Q2 so they could start on it and having greater strategy flexibility for the race - including potentially an ultrasoft/supersoft combination that would avoid the hypersoft completely.

A one-second delta between the hypersoft and ultrasoft meant it was always going to be a risky ploy, and only Mercedes tried it.

But neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas could produce a quick enough lap on their first Q2 runs with the ultrasoft so had to join the rest on hypersofts to guarantee reaching Q3.

"We were keen to try to find out whether we could qualify on the prime, because starting the race on the hyper will be tough," said Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff.

"We've seen a lot of graining on the front left, and we've seen some degradation on the rear.

"Probably the one who is in the lead is going to manage the pace very carefully in the race tomorrow, and still run out of tyre after a few laps.

"It could be quite a tricky situation and you would want to avoid the hyper."

Bottas said it was worth trying the ultrasoft gamble as "against the hyper we could do a long stint and create nice opportunities", but is concerned a one-stop race will be hard now Mercedes is committed to the hypersoft.

"I think we can do a relatively long stint with the ultra," he said.

"Small issues with graining, but nothing compared to the hyper.

"We struggled quite a lot in practice, so honestly starting with the hyper it is going to be difficult to do a one-stop.

"It is quite steep degradation once it happens, and it is a funny tyre.

"Once it happens it really happens and you lose so much suddenly within one lap.

"Very quickly you can lose more than one second, so once it fully grains between one and two seconds is the loss."

He added that Mercedes calculated it was "one tenth" from being fast enough to get into Q3 on ultrasofts.

Bottas ended up fifth on the grid, with Hamilton third.

Wolff felt Hamilton's result in particular was the maximum possible for Mercedes in Monaco, and shrugged off its relative weak form on the street track as a price worth paying to be quick elsewhere.

"We started off solid, we did the right experiments, and the drivers extracted the pace of the car," he said.

"All of us believe that this is the pace of the car around Monaco.

"You have to be realistic with your car. We're trying to achieve the best car for 21 races to come out with the most points, and therefore you have to compromise with some of the circuits."

shares
comments
Haas forced to remove fragile bargeboard parts for Monaco GP

Previous article

Haas forced to remove fragile bargeboard parts for Monaco GP

Next article

Verstappen says Monaco GP was looking "very easy" before crash

Verstappen says Monaco GP was looking "very easy" before crash
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Adam Cooper
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

Formula 1
May 9, 2021
How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher Plus

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton has just become the first driver to record 100 world championship Formula 1 pole positions. Time to revisit a debate we discussed when he reached 150 front row starts in 2020.

Formula 1
May 8, 2021