Mercedes chief engineer Andrew Shovlin answers the demands of the fans after the Russia GP, the Mercedes social media platforms begin their attempts at limiting the ill feeling toward them.
The Mercedes PR vehicle mobilised to try and rescue comments likening the team orders allowing Hamilton to pass race leader and team mate Bottas to the Schumacher era Ferrari days.
It wasn’t lost on everyone the feelings Bottas had toward the result of the Russian GP:
‘Somebody has to do it’ – Toto Wolff
As racers, it was a tough decision to make. But, as Toto says, when there are Championships at stake someone has to do it.
“I thought about it the whole hour, in the same way I thought about it in Budapest,” he explained. “In Budapest, we said if we can’t make it past Raikkonen, then we’re going to swap back.
“I wanted to stand by my word. Even if it would cost us the position. But, that was Budapest, mid-season and here we are in Sochi at the end of the season.
“I thought about it all the time, but you need to consider the Championship. And, if at the end five points or three points are missing, then you’re the biggest idiot on the planet for having prioritised Valtteri’s single race result over the Championship.
“It’s about seven points up and down, and as much as it is difficult to make such a call, somebody has to do it. Somebody needs to be the baddie and it’s me today.
“You need to weigh it up. To be the baddie on Sunday evening for many right reasons, or do I want to be the idiot in Abu Dhabi at end of the season?
“I’d rather be a baddie today than an idiot at the end of the year.”
"Honestly, I understand the situation. It's not ideal for me as an athlete and a person but that is a fact. The only thing that matters for me now to keep me going to the end of the year is I know that I was supposed to win and I could've won on equal terms"
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 1, 2018
Of course, Lewis says he doesn’t like to win ‘in that way’, and chances are it’s true. He is many things, but he at least appears to try and play fair in a true British fashion.
“The balance has to be right, the energy, and the trust,” Hamilton told Swiss newspaper Blick, when asked about potential “dangers in a team” with regard to Ferrari Schumacher like team orders.”
No drama, just positive vibes. Have the best week. God bless you 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/JjS3orxh07
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 1, 2018
“I do not believe in bad luck, I believe in other things,” he adds referring to a higher power, i.e. God.
Mercedes and Andrew Shovlin responds…
On Instagram, a fan asks –
“Lewis has spoken in the radio of delays in his drive unit. Was there a problem? And could there be an unplanned engine change in Suzuka? “
Shovlin agrees: “That’s not a real problem. This usually comes from minor difficulties with the mapping of the engine. So there is no need to worry about the technology. But of course we will look at it before the next race weekend in Suzuka. And we’ll make sure we deliver a nice, round performance. ”
“Why did not you bring Hamilton to the pits one lap earlier?”
“When Valtteri Bottas pulled in the box, Lewis could accelerate at full speed and gain about 6 tenths of a second.
“We thought that would allow us to increase the distance and maybe even catch Max Verstappen. Unfortunately, the ultra-soft tires took off as he took them harder – because that’s not a very strong mix. So he made progress at that time, but then suffered later under the degrading tires.
“That’s why we should have come in a lap earlier. Ferrari has benefited from it. They caught up with Vettel and were thus able to successfully complete the so-called undercut.
“That did not go according to plan for us. We did not do what we should have done. And we will also see that before the next race.”
On Facebook –
“Have you considered bringing Lewis in first to fend off Vettel or should Bottas always turn to tire change first?”
“We considered most things. We talk on each lap about what the cars do. And we did not know how fast Lewis would be if he had a free air, ” explains Shovlin. “We did not know how many laps the ultra-soft tire would hold if pushed harder. That was one of the reasons why we did not want to bring him in. ”
“It was clear to us that he would then get stuck behind Verstappen and that would make us vulnerable to Ferrari,” the engineer continues. “That was one of the main reasons why we brought Valtteri home first, but also that Valtteri was much higher in the lead. We could be sure that the Finn would come out after the stop before Vettel.”
On Instagram –
“How bad was blistering on Lewis?”
“That was a concern,” Shovlin admits. And he says: “You could see them on TV, there was a line in the middle of the tire.
“It can get a lot worse, but if you get the tires really rough at the beginning, they offer a lot of grip and still have a lot of rubber on them. This makes them very prone to blistering.
“The problem is that you will not know until much later how much the tire is worn out and how bad the problem will actually be. So we were worried about how big the problem would be, because that would have made Lewis vulnerable towards the end of the race. ”
On Twitter –
“How dangerous could Sebastian Lewis have become? Could Seb really have attacked if the two Mercedes drivers had not passed Verstappen? “
Shovlin admits, ” There were a few things we were not sure about. One of them was how fast Ferrari would be on the soft tires. We saw in the first stint that it was damn hard to get a lead, so we knew they were fast.
“We also thought that the field behind Verstappen could have moved together, because there was no reason for Verstappen to go to the pits, he stayed out – he would have benefited from a possible safety car phase.
“We were worried because it would have been difficult in the event of a collapse of the field. Sebastian could have started a maneuver. And such things are difficult to predict.”