Hamilton was able to take the lead with Paul Ricard on the opening lap after Verstappen made a mistake on Turn 2 and worked to make a small gap in the first stint.
However, when Hamilton made a pit stop at the end of lap 19, he came a lap before and emerged from the pit behind Verstappen, who favored fresher tires.
After Verstappen switched to a two-stop strategy, he paved the way for winning the Red Bull race and passed Hamilton again on the penultimate lap to extend his championship lead.
After the race, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovelin explained that the team’s modeling system believed Hamilton was safe from undercuts thanks to the gap opened in Verstappen.
“When I was a little over three seconds to Max, I thought it was safe from undercuts, but it wasn’t,” Shoblin said. “I still don’t fully understand why the model told us it’s okay, so obviously there’s something we need to go and understand.”
Shoblin said Mercedes was involved in the performance of hard tires on Verstappen’s outlap, but there was still a 0.5 second gap from an unexplained analysis of lost time.
“The hard tires were good and they were good right out of the box,” Shoblin said. “But that’s a bit we still need to experience, as we still don’t fully understand why we lost our position.
“It can take about two and a half seconds out of three seconds, but that’s because we didn’t expect it, so to understand how we’ve been undercut so far. We need to dig into the details. “
Mercedes caused an early pit stop at the front of the puck with the introduction of Valtteri Bottas at the end of lap 17. He was afraid of the risk of failure after picking up the vibrations on his media set.
There was a window for Mercedes to bring Hamilton one lap later, but Shoblin explained that the team thought it was too early if they wanted to do the hard to the end.
“It was unpleasantly fast to get to the end. I think I knew that was the case when the race was over,” Shoblin said. “Also, Valtteri’s car concern was the increasing vibration that was getting worse with each lap. It was starting to reach the level of boxing cars due to reliability concerns.
“That’s why we did it because the focus was really on making sure we weren’t having problems getting on track with him.
“Actually, Valtteri’s stop was triggered and the pits stopped in front of the grid, and that was why we had to do a very long and long stint with Lewis.”
Mercedes can’t explain the 0.5 seconds lost in Verstappen F1 undercut
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