Andrew Shovlin says Mercedes W12 is not lacking pace to Red Bull RB16B, as he adds on the set-up changes on Lewis Hamilton’s car in France.
Apart from confirming some of points that Toto Wolff made in F1 French GP regarding the chassis swap and Mercedes’ strategy choices, the post-race debrief from Shovlin had few more to discuss, especially on the pace side of the W12 and set-up changes.
As Mercedes finds themselves behind Red Bull in both the F1 standings, Shovlin noted that the W12 is not lacking pace to RB16B, especially on the race trim, even if they maybe a bit behind on the qualifying pace. They have out aside the street tracks, though.
“Well, it’s fair to say in qualifying Max was on pole by a quarter of a second and Mercedes weren’t really able to do that time,” said Shovlin. “Our drivers did good laps, they were clean laps but most of that was coming from Max on the back straight, it is a very long straight in Ricard and we were not making enough up in the corners to be able to get any closer.
“However, on Sunday you saw that when Lewis took the lead of the race in the first stint he was actually able to pull a bit of a gap, by the end of the stint it looked like Max was actually dropping back more than we were.
“So, it was encouraging to see that and that is a picture we have seen, if you ignore Baku and Monaco, which are very specific circuits, we’ve seen this picture at previous races where they are actually a bit ahead on the Saturday in qualifying but actually when it comes to the race we are right there with them or even a fraction quicker in terms of degradation or race pace,” summed up Shovlin.
Talking more about the W12, it was once again for Hamilton to make changes from Friday to Saturday, which brought back the car to him. When asked about the changes, Shovlin trimmed it down on what sort of things were altered to make it more comfortable.
“Essentially those changes were adjustments to the mechanical balance, so, the roll bars on the car, trying to change how it distributes the load across the four wheels around the lap and also the aero balance, using the front wing to try and put more downforce on the front axle which can make the car more responsive when you turn into the corners,” said Shovlin.
“Those are the basic tools, now in terms of the positives, well, as you heard him say in qualifying he was much happier with the rear end of the car, he could turn in with confidence, he could carry speed and he didn’t feel like it was going to step out when he got into the corners and that was useful because we’ve got some direction from that, that if we have this problem again at another circuit we know how we can tackle it in the future.”
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