Lewis Hamilton was overtaken twice by Max Verstappen at the Formula 1 GP in Brazil on Sunday.
The second pass in the final phase, the Dutchman had the advantage of fresher tyres, and the first time Hamilton had to fight with a flat battery according to his own statement. “Come on, guys! Give me the information when my battery is dead”, he radioed to his team after the move.
Mercedes technical director James Allison reveals the reason after the race.
“We used most of the battery’s energy to get the undercut. And when it went up the hill, we were an easy victim for Max.
“He had speed on the straights all weekend, and since we were still missing the battery, you could see what was happening.”
Hamilton, who was behind the Red Bull at the time, came to a stop one lap before Verstappen. To overtake the Dutchman in the pits, Mercedes had to commit a lot of energy.
“Lewis had to drive a fast [Out-Lap] to make it work,” says Allison. The plan initially paid off, as Verstappen returned to the track behind Hamilton.
And they had also been a bit “lucky” because Robert Kubica was unfortunately sent out of the Williams pit just before Verstappen. Hamilton was further ahead of Verstappen due to the incident than they had actually calculated, and Allison admits that with that block from Kubica, they might not have needed to use up their battery in the first place by saying “if we’d known Williams Max was blocking….”
“We could’ve even taken the lap pretty easy,” he reveals. Instead, Hamilton didn’t have the energy to defend against Red Bull at the end of the next lap. Even in the middle of the lap there was no chance to save any more energy. “We had already used up the energy by then,” explains Allison. “In the second stint Max was a bit more comfortable with his tyres,”
“Today we just had to deal with a very strong car and driver,” Allison praises the Dutchman.
Already in the first stint one noticed that it would be difficult to win against Verstappen.
“Lewis was able to stay close to him until the end of the stint. But the pace wasn’t really there on our car.”