Mercedes goes in-depth in explaining its reasoning and findings as to what happened in F1 Japanese GP with regards to strategy and their car.

It wasn’t a straightforward F1 Japanese GP for Mercedes where George Russell finished seventh, while Lewis Hamilton was ninth. They had to fight hard for the results especially with the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin, who were in direct competition.

They rolled the dice and tried a different strategy post the red flag which kind of worked but not to the finer extent. There was one idea to go long and undertake a one-stop strategy, but the degradation was too high initially which hampered their choice.

Eventually they switched to two-stops and the degradation lowered as the race progressed. Andrew Shovlin also speaks on the damage that Hamilton had and the extent he was suffering which came in combination with first stint issues.

Change of tyre compound post re-start –

Shovlin: “Principally we thought that would be a way to be a bit different. So the teams in the top ten that had two Hard, that was us and McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari had two of the Mediums and at that point there wasn’t really enough information to know how that Hard and Medium were going to compare. There was only limited running from across the weekend. So part of it was to try and be a bit different. It would certainly be an easier way of achieving a one stop with two Hards than with a Medium and a Hard and because of that red flag we’d already run the Medium.

“So as far as the rules are concerned that single lap prior to the red flag means you’ve run the Medium and you would be allowed to effectively do a Hard, Hard one stop. Was one of the reasons. Then looking further down the grid there wasn’t really any threat from the other teams. They were slower than us and not likely to interact. So really it was about offsetting. Now the issue was that the end of our Hard stint wasn’t good enough. We were dropping off. We lost a fair bit of time in traffic but fundamentally we weren’t quick enough and we’re just trying to understand that now. But yeah it was about doing the most easy one stop from there.”

First stint issues –

Shovlin: “Well it was okay initially and then by about half distance we started to drop off. We also got a bit of traffic. Now the tyres in Suzuka run quite hot. There’s a bit of overheating and when you get some traffic it just drops the grip, causes a bit more sliding and specifically we were struggling with the slower corners. So there’s a hairpin, the slow chicane as well. They were where we were losing a fair chunk of that time and it was quite difficult once we got to that stage of the stint, as I said, made worse when we had a car in front. But it was difficult to get the car turned and it was just costing us a bit in both of those corners.

“And then obviously as the tyres are just getting older the sliding goes up and the temperatures get a bit higher and that was just compounding it. But I wouldn’t say we’ve got a complete understanding of that issue now. It’s obviously very soon after the race. That’s one of the jobs that we’re going to be getting into in the next few days trying to work out exactly what happened and why did we drop off so much more than for instance Leclerc who did a very good first stint that was a lot longer.”

One stop not possible –

Shovlin: “Yeah, I mean we were starting to realise that, to be honest, at the point that we dropped off on that first stint. Now you keep your options open, there’s nothing that really prevents you converting until you decide it’s time to do so. But we stayed out a bit longer on that second stint to build a bit of a gap. We may have benefited from a safety car but there wasn’t one. But you don’t want to stay out so long that you can’t then catch up. Now we’ve done the analysis on the tyre curves now and the Hard and the Medium don’t look very different.

“It was certainly cooler at the end of the race which may have been helping. But the second stint and the third stint were OK. So we know that we’re not quick enough, we know that there’s a good sized gap to Red Bull that we need to close down and there’s a bit of a gap to Norris, to the Ferraris that we need to work on. But certainly, the performance of the car was where we expected it to be, in stint 2 and stint 3.”

Damage to Hamilton’s car –

Shovlin: “It did lose a bit and more than the absolute amount of downforce you lost, it just made the car a bit more understeery on a stint where we were probably already a little bit on the understeery side. And the track was hot so on the grid we took a little bit of wing out for that. But that additional loss then caused him problems and he was actually quite front limited throughout that first stint. Now at the pit stop we didn’t change the wing but we can put some flap angle back in it. You can put a bit more load on and that actually put the car in a much better place. So, as I said in terms of headline numbers, not a lot of lap time when you can balance it out but certainly adding to the problems that we had during stint one.”

Learning from Suzuka –

Shovlin: “The big program we were looking at was to try and get the car a bit more predictable through the weekend. What we found is that we can get it in a window but if the wind changes the track temp changes it quickly falls out of it and that was leading to poor performance in race and qualifying. Now there’s no doubt that we’re not where we need to be at the moment, we know that and we know that we’ve got work to do. But certainly working with the car across the weekend was easier, the balance of the car was more consistent, there are issues that we need to get on top of and get on Top of quickly. But certainly, we seem to have a more stable platform, one where its behaviour through the whole weekend is more consistent but as I said we know that there’s work to do and we’ll be working on that immediately.”

Here’s Lewis Hamilton on damage from Charles Leclerc

Here’s Lewis Hamilton wishing Heikki Kovalainen

Here’s George Russell on clash with Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso’s tactics

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