Did Mercedes bring Lewis Hamilton the podium at the Turkish Grand Prix? – Motorsports

Overthrowing Lewis Hamilton with a tire strategy is always a bold call.

With nearly 15 years of experience in F1 and seven world championships to show it, Hamilton’s racing intuition is arguably one of the most valuable weapons Mercedes has in its strategic weapons. However, it was ignored at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Dropping the car from the podium to 5th place, like when Hamilton made a pit stop on lap 50 of the Turkish Grand Prix, makes it even harder to make such a decision, but in this case it was the right decision.

What’s wrong?

Hamilton, who started from 11th on the grid due to an engine penalty, was doing a lot of work ahead of Sunday. Wettrack seemed to offer the seven-time World Champion, who won Turkey from 6th place last year, the opportunity to cross the field, but they didn’t really get together.

This year’s Turkish Grand Prix was different from the wet F1 races I remember recently. In the second half of the race, the rain turned into drizzle and stopped completely, but the course did not dry completely. Considering that one intermediate tire can drain 30 liters of water per second from the road when driving at 300km / h, it was expected that 20 cars with four tires would dry the road. But that didn’t happen.

Prior to the race, some members of the Mercedes team predicted that the dry line would be on track by lap 10 of the race, but Hamilton himself predicted that the dry line would appear by lap 30. I did. Makes slick tires and strategy calls more tricky than usual.

Benefiting from hindsight, the fastest way to the checkered flag was to stop for a second set of intermediate tires at some point between laps 35 and 42. That’s what Valtteri Bottas did, the same Mercedes car as Hamilton, racing in a canter 14 seconds before Verstappen.

So why didn’t Hamilton take advantage of Mercedes’ pace as well?

Hamilton finished in 5th place. This is the same position as when the driver started the pit stop. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez held him back at the end of lap 35 with an impressive display of defensive driving, pitted two laps later and gave up his position to Hamilton, but instead got a new set of intermediate tires. I did.

Hamilton ignored the call to pit in after four laps on lap 41 and refuted his team’s belief that the second set of intermediates was the fastest and safest way to the flag. Judging from other radio communications at the time of the race, Hamilton still had the hope that the truck would be dry enough to switch to slick tires. It eliminates the need to pit twice if he can wait long enough with existing tires. If that had happened, he would have won a position at Perez and would have won if the timing of the switch to slick tires was perfect compared to Bottas, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

There were other factors that clouded the logic of switching to the second set of intermediates. As the number of dry lines increased, all drivers who switched to the new midset had a hard time starting a few laps of the new stint. The very soft compound of the intermediate tire had a “rough” surface, so the top layer of rubber was rolled up into a small ball instead of digging into the track. Until the problem was resolved, the tire struggled with performance for several laps, and the rubber on the surface of the tire began to smooth, showing true performance.

On lap 42, Mercedes talked about the pit stop again and said race engineer Peter Bonnington would provide more “thinking time.” At that point, Hamilton passed fifth on lap 14 of the race, and both Perez and Pierre Guthrie were in the second midset for a few laps, both well ahead of Hamilton’s pace. did not.

Hamilton didn’t pit in, so he was fourth from Perez, with a comfortable 15-second gap and the flexibility to switch to slick tires as needed. However, he traded the ability to switch to an intermediate at the pit stop and make Perez jump. By doing so, the track position will return to Perez and it is unlikely that it will catch up in the grain phase.

Leclerc’s Ferrari was trying to carry out a similar strategy to steal Bottas’ victory, but two mistakes on Turn 12 showed how difficult it was. The Ferrari driver was clearly already suffering from tires and soon gave up his position to Botta on Turn 1. For Mercedes, who was naturally pleased to see Botta return to the lead, it was a warning of what would happen to Hamilton.

During that “thinking time”, the Mercedes pit wall squeezed the worst scenario. Some of the tires that came off the rival were worn to the dead, and Pirelli began telling the technicians to advise the team not to run until the end of the race.

“When I saw Charles drop off at Ferrari, I could see a drop in performance soon and started to drop a bit with Lewis,” said Andrew Shovlin, chief trackside engineer at Mercedes. He said after the race.

“suddenly, [race] Those who plan a position to lose by making a pit stop [for intermediates] Anyway, you lose to Perez and Charles, and you even risk losing if you really deviate from the curve. So it was the case that it really reduced our losses and wasn’t too greedy. “

By lap 46, Hamilton lost more than 0.5 seconds per lap to a car that had already pitted in, and on lap 47 he lost 1.4 seconds to Guthrie in 6th place. At this stage he still had a 25-second advantage over AlphaTauri, but the gap only narrowed in the next few laps, and quite soon Hamilton was unable to pit in the new intermediate, Guthrie. You will not be able to go beyond.

It was around this time that Mercedes also came to the conclusion that Hamilton’s current set of intermediates would not end the race. Monitoring the temperature showed that his performance was spiraling downwards, and a visual inspection of the tires showed that some of the tire’s carcass appeared on the front left tire. The white strings of Carcus literally became visible when there was no rubber left on the tread, revealing that Hamilton was at risk of tire failure as well as poor performance.

One driver finished the race without pitting and scored 10th place as a reward: Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Talking to French television after the race, Hamilton learned that Ocon had reached the end of the race with a set of tires and responded, “If Ocon does it, I can do it.” However, Ocon’s checkered flag on a set of tires was only part of the story.

When Mercedes definitely decided to pit on lap 48, Ocon was from Lance Stroll’s 10th place (with an old intermediate on lap 8 in the car) and Antonio Jobinati’s head (12th) at 21.9 seconds. I was running in 9th place 5 seconds earlier. There was an old intermediate of 7 laps). By the end of the race, Ocon was 21 seconds behind the walk (26 seconds net loss), just 0.7 seconds ahead of Jobinati in the relatively competitive Alfa Romeo. After the race, when Ocon pulled up with a parc ferme, his right front tire was worn down to the carcass. Both he and Pirelli admitted that he was lucky to finish the race.

Using the Ocon example to apply similar tire performance degradation to Hamilton’s car, he could not only finish behind Perez and Leclerc, but also lose to Guthrie and Lando Norris-in the meantime. I’ve been taking risks for a long time, of complete failure.

In that sense, Mercedes’ decision to pit in Hamilton on lap 50 and drop from 3rd to 5th was absolutely correct. Ideally, the team pitted Hamilton earlier than Perez, gaining an advantage over Red Bull and trying to raise the position he lost when Leclerc stayed longer, which is almost certain that Hamilton was based on him. A radio message around the 42nd lap, which is a decision that would have been rejected by.

Hamilton: I’m a risk taker

But even after his report, looking at all the information above, Hamilton still seemed to think he was able to make his non-stop strategy work.

“Again, if I stayed, I don’t know if I held the position, but I’m a risk taker, so I would have wanted to take that risk,” he said. .. “But today I started on the 11th and got a new engine, so I got points.

“At that moment, I have only a certain amount of information and I feel that the team has other information. They are looking at everyone else. For me, the whole picture is complete. I don’t want to give up anything when I don’t understand.

“That’s why you need to rely on your team, accept their choices and hope it’s right. We always say wins and losses as a team.

“I heard about the team today. Didn’t they get out? Looking at some others, they dropped out on a large scale and lost their positions, so it was a risk anyway.” From the team’s perspective, Shoblin is confident that the data will support the pitwall decision and is pleased to have drivers who are constantly demanding more.

“Lewis is always looking at what is in front of him and the most he can get,” he said. “He was so invested in this championship that he didn’t expect anything but frustration at P5 when he thought he might be able to stay in third place at some point.

“But we experience it with him, we have now been reported with him, and I think he understands why. It’s a kind of frustration from him. I’m dissatisfied. The podium and it didn’t happen. I think it was a little disappointing.

“But looking at how we operated, it’s wise, and in championship battles, there are points where you need to stop taking risks and reduce losses, and those decisions. It’s hard to do, but you have to. Strong, you have to take them. “

– Motorsports

Did Mercedes bring Lewis Hamilton the podium at the Turkish Grand Prix? Did Mercedes bring Lewis Hamilton the podium at the Turkish Grand Prix?

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