Max Verstappen’s victory at the Dutch Grand Prix reveals a potential weakness of Mercedes – Motorsports

Zandvoort, The Netherlands-When Max Verstappen finished his winning lap in Zandvoort, the air was rich with orange smoke and techno beats. The three-day party on the Dutch coast, which began the moment the first car left the pits on Friday morning, culminated with 70,000 people celebrating their first Dutch home victory in F1.

Given the hype surrounding Verstappen for the first Grand Prix in the Netherlands since 1985, it seemed unimaginable that anyone but the Dutch would win on Sunday. But with its own approval, Mercedes has become easier than it needs to be for Verstappen.

Red Bull definitely had a pace advantage in Zandvoort, but compared to Verstappen’s only Red Bull, Mercedes had a strategic advantage thanks to having two cars at the front. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez was knocked out in the first stage of qualifying on Saturday. Leads to a pit lane start Mercedes was second on the grid with Lewis Hamilton and third with Valtteri Bottas when the team changed the components of his car.

Hamilton and Mercedes’ Plan A was to pass Verstappen on Turn 1 and try to control the race from the front, but when Verstappen maintained the lead in the first corner, Mercedes had to think through the pit wall for rivals. It didn’t become. .. The strategist decided to counter Hamilton with a two-stop strategy and Bottas with a one-stop, with the goal of catching Verstappen somewhere in between. However, the execution of Mercedes’ plans lacked the sophistication needed to ultimately succeed.

Hamilton’s slow first pit stop slowed the first attempt to take the lead on lap 21, the untimely second stop sent Hamilton to backmarker traffic, and the Red Bull counter beat Red Bull with its own pit stop. Brought. Verstappen.

At the end of the race, Bottas, who is expected to be dropped by George Russell in Williams next year, became a rogue in a fastest lap attempt and Hamilton.

Hamilton fixed the situation by securing a third pit stop and fastest lap, but the situation was awkward and could have been disastrous if the pit stop didn’t go well, for example the Bottas car in Monaco. ..

The final points show that the two Mercedes drivers outperformed Verstappen and Perez by five points to extend the team’s lead in the Constructors’ Championship, but the results at Zandvoort are current. The shape clearly reminded me of Verstappen and Red. Bull is a better all-round package.

Did Mercedes abandon the race at the second pit stop?

Perhaps the most mysterious strategic decision from Mercedes was the timing of Hamilton’s second outage. Only a few laps ago he seemed to be in a good position to undercut Verstappen, but Mercedes passed it in fear of the remaining laps running on a set of tires and the team pitted in. When I dropped Hamilton on the traffic that took him to several corners to clear him.

The timing of the pit call was partly due to the lack of track time in the practice on Friday. This means that the team did not have reliable data on hard tires. As a result, Mercedes decided not to use hard compounds from the start of the race-unless it was quickly proven in another car during the race-and assumed that Red Bull would take the same approach.

Mercedes wanted to push Red Bull into a long soft stint when he pitted Hamilton. Verstappen didn’t have the option to fit a second set of media. However, Red Bull was confident in Verstappen’s ability to cover all three tire compounds, called bluffs, and put on hard tires that covered Hamilton’s stops and worked well to the checkered flag.

“In terms of strategy, we must say that perhaps 50 percent of the race was lost in qualifying and the start,” said Toto Wolff, the boss of the Mercedes team. “I think they were at a tremendous pace. If we were ahead, we would have emphasized. I think we were at a pace, but taking risks was also important.

“I didn’t think they would work hard [tyre at the second stop].. It’s a little unknown territory, and our idea was to push them to an early second stop of software that could have given us a chance at the end.So we didn’t really care where it came out [in terms of traffic].. They worked hard and took a little risk to win the race. “

But even if the strategy worked, Verstappen looked more comfortable and faster than Hamilton throughout the weekend. He secured pole position in just 0.038 seconds, but Mercedes engineers thought the gap was close to 0.2 seconds if Verstappen made a mistake from turn 3 and his DRS didn’t open on the run to the flag. I am.

Mercedes could put extra pressure on Red Bull with a well-executed strategy, but this was Verstappen’s defeat and there were no signs of doing so from the moment he left the pole position.

Verstappen won and regained three points in the championship lead in the remaining nine races, raising the question of whether the championship would also lose to Verstappen.

“Well, I’m giving it all, we’re giving it absolutely everything, even since the first race these guys have had very strong cars all year round and we’re as strong as we can I’m working hard, “Hamilton said. “But there were a few races, which seemed to be about the same or a little more advanced, but there were only a few races and it was a big leap and difficult.

“I can’t say any more. You have to bow down and keep pushing. You’re ahead in the team championship. That’s great, but of course you need to speed up to win the race. There is the future. “

However, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes that the layout of the next two tracks, Monza and Sochi, favors Mercedes.

“Their car and engine packages have historically been very strong on these circuits and have been a weak spot for us,” Horner said. “So I hope they will have an advantage in the next two, but then it should be nip and tack, I certainly hope.

“For us, the next two weekends are to limit the damage as much as possible and try to pull it out of the car as much as possible.”

Did Bottas go out to prove the point on the fastest lap?

It was clear in several races that Bottas was moved to Hamilton’s support roll at this year’s Mercedes, but on the weekend of the Dutch Grand Prix, Bottas will be next year’s Mercedes. George Russell is about to be announced as Hamilton’s teammate in 2022. Bottas, who will move to Alfa Romeo, is understood to already know the fate of next season.

In Zandvoort, Bottas made a one-stop strategy to help Hamilton by holding Verstappen at an important point in the race, but Bottas made a mistake on lap 31 and jeopardized his run to the pit straight. The plan has leveled off. And gave Verstappen an easy overtaking opportunity. It was clear that Bottas’s race was being used to be a potential headache for Red Bull, and that he never contended for victory. It made it even more interesting when he took the fastest lap from Hamilton towards the end of the race.

Bottas began to experience annoying vibrations from the tires at the end of the second stint, and Mercedes pitted on lap 67 on lap 72 to make sure there was no risk of failure. That slow stop gave Botta the opportunity to claim the fastest lap (and associated championship points) from Hamilton with his fresh tires, and he was on his first flying lap from the pits. I did exactly that.

The Mercedes pit wall instructed Bottas to slow down. This was what he did in the final sector, where the final sector time was 0.8 seconds slower than the previous lap, but the overall lap time was still 0.6 seconds faster. Hamilton’s previous efforts. Hamilton then had to make his own pit stop to regain points, which was a whopping 1.5 seconds, but at risk of mistakes from the pit crew put stress on the Mercedes pit wall.

“Yes, it was a bit cheeky, but I understand,” Wolff said after the race. “Because this championship is so tight, Valtteri is always on the receiving side. He lifted off extensively in the last sector and it was clear that Lewis would do the fastest lap, and Valtteri knew it. Luis got points in his fight for the championship and it’s all good.

“It couldn’t have been a loss for Lewis. It wouldn’t have been right because he had the fastest lap until then. But at that point Valtteri and finally everything is good. I We talk about it, but in the most friendly and professional way, but I can certainly relate to the situation. “

Bottas shrugged and said he knew Hamilton could pit in and set his fastest lap. “Honestly, there was a pretty big gap in the front and a pretty big gap in the back, so for safety reasons it was good to stop,” he said. “I think I was able to finish early without stopping, but it was safer to stop at the end because the final ranking was the same. At first I thought I was stopping at the fastest lap, but Lewis also had a gap. , He stopped.

“I was pushing the first laps of Sector 1 and Sector 2 like a flat out, but the team asked me to slow down at the end of the lap, so Lewis needed that extra point. That’s because he was fighting for the drivers’ championship and trying to get the most points as a team than I was really playing. “

As evidence of recent races, Hamilton needs everything to defeat Verstappen. This makes Botta’s action in Zandvoort even more interesting for the title battle.

– Motorsports

Max Verstappen’s victory at the Dutch Grand Prix reveals a potential weakness of Mercedes Max Verstappen’s victory at the Dutch Grand Prix reveals a potential weakness of Mercedes

Back to top button