After the collision between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in Monza, the Ferrari star complained of the poor balance due to damage sustained by the contact with Hamilton.
James Vowles is chief strategist for Mercedes-Benz and following the Italian GP he claims that Lewis Hamilton too sustained damage from the same contact.
“Vettel needed a front wing change, and the floor was also affected” says Vowles.
“In our case, there too was damage; on the left side of the car, around the underbody.
“The kind of damage was too bad, and didn’t prevent us from the victory. ”
“Certainly it didn’t dramatically affect the car balance, but there was a loss in performance.
“We were only able to determine the extent of the damage after the race finish, when we were able to take a closer look at the car.”
Vowles then goes on to describe the team’s strategy in how to beat the lead Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen.
“Around lap 20, the first opportunity to ‘undercut’ Kimi but Ferrari took the chance away and covered this off bringing him in.
“If they hadn’t come in, we could’ve gone in and picked up fresh tyres earlier.
“As soon as Kimi was in, Hamilton was asked to attack as we were trying the ‘overcut’.
“That was the 2nd option available to us…”
The Mercedes spokesman daren’t ever reflect badly to the press regarding the team’s often questionable tactical decision making.
“It was tight, but not quite enough” claims Vowles. Anyone with half an eye on the race would see that Kimi was already entering the Rettifilo chicane when Hamilton emerges from the pit exit – so hardly ‘tight’.
“Then we decided on the third option, which was to stay out for an extremely long time.
“Monza is usually a one-stop race. The tire degradation is on the lower side and the tires are flexible, how many laps you can drive with it.
“We pushed for a very long time to achieve the biggest possible performance difference between Lewis and Kimi.
“Usually you lose race time, Kimi would be very fast because he was on fresher tires. He would move away again.
“This would increase the distance you have to catch up at the end of the race. In this case, but also Valtteri drove very long against Verstappen and thus Kimi stuck in traffic.
“That’s why Lewis was able to stop much later and had fresher tires to catch up with Kimi.”
Interesting that no mention of the team ordering ‘wingman’ Bottas to sacrifice the potential of his own race to better the chances of his teammate. A fair tactic I might add, but an interesting observation that no mention of this in Vowles dialog.
“At the time, the damage had already been done to Kimi.” continues the Mercedes man, “His tires hit bubbles because he had attacked so hard and from then on it was a fight between Lewis and Kimi for the win.”
“Finally, Lewis has overtaken him fantastically in the first corner and thus secured the victory.”
Another interesting quote appeared in Autosport today, from Vettel claiming that he does not want Ferrari to impose team orders on Kimi Raikkonen claiming that “I’m doing my job and I’m prepared to race everybody.”, including Kimi.