Andrew Shawlin on Mercedes’ problems at the Jeddah stage

Mercedes chief racing engineer Andrew Shawlin summed up the Saudi Grand Prix and explained the problems the team faced in Jeddah.

Andrew Shawlin: “Work in Formula 1 never stops, the team is constantly assessing what conclusions can be drawn from the last stage, and how to apply the information obtained at the next Grand Prix.

What conclusions can we draw from the race in Jeddah?

First, we have no illusions about our backlog, which is even higher than in Bahrain. We need to significantly increase both in qualifying and in a long series of laps to fight Ferrari and Red Bull. At the same time, we still have an advantage over the teams in the middle group, which allows us to experiment with the settings during the weekend in an attempt to achieve more.

Ultimately, our problem can be solved at the bases in Brackley and Brixworth. Everyone is working hard, trying to understand the reason and find solutions – we will continue to work in stages in the next races.

On the track, we will do our best to minimize losses and earn as many points as possible. So, we have two goals: to try to maximize speed during the weekends and try to return to a level that will allow you to fight for poles and win races.

In Jeddah, Lewis Hamilton did not leave the first part of qualifying for the first time since 2017. Commenting on the reasons for this result, Chauvin said: “There are several reasons for this, but the fundamental answer is that after two races we do not understand the car as well as we would at the end of the season.

Lewis and I are trying different settings in an attempt to find ones that will increase the speed. On Friday night, we found an option for Saturday, which Lewis evaluated in the third training session. In qualifying, we took a few more steps in the chosen direction, but in the end we overdid it.

The rear wheels of Lewis’ car lacked traction on the asphalt, and on the fast city road in Jeddah, the racer must feel confident. In a situation where the rear wheels do not hold the track, and the walls are so close, there is no question of any certainty. We overdid it, but it was a rewarding experience.

The fundamental problem is that the car is not fast enough. If we do not act perfectly, we will still have risks in qualifying. We need to make the car faster as soon as possible. “

In the race, Lewis Hamilton did not enter the pits at the time of the virtual safety car after stopping at the track of Daniel Riccardo and Fernando Alonso. Commenting on the episode, Shovlin said: “We did not have such an opportunity. When the car stopped on the track, the virtual safety car mode was turned on, but when Lewis approached the pit lane, the entrance to it was already closed, so we could not make a pit stop.

The entrance to the pit lane was opened only after the cars were removed and the mode was turned off, but at that moment Lewis was no longer in the “window” of the pit stop, when it would be possible to win back time at the expense of the safety car.

On which lap were we planning a Lewis pit stop? We do not have an exact answer. The situation is that the Hard tires looked very good and showed a stable speed. At that moment, we were trying to figure out where the McLaren riders were, who were at the pit stop behind us. Lewis and I tried to get them out of the pit stop window, and we gradually implemented that plan.

We would probably stop in the 39-40 lap area, but the goal was to get ahead of the McLaren riders who were fighting Valtteri Bottas and two Alpine cars. Our calculations showed that we would have enough speed to overtake them on the track, which would allow Lewis to finish sixth.

Lewis started on Hard tires, so we had two options for the final segment – Medium or Soft, but based on data collected over the weekend, it was obvious that Soft will not last until the finish. It was possible to drive two or three fast laps on Soft, after which it would start to degrade, while the composition of Medium allowed to get to the finish line faster. “

Shawlin also praised George Russell’s performances in Jeddah: “George squeezed the most out of the car, finishing fifth. We knew we were far behind Red Bull and Ferrari, so fifth place was our best. The team is working hard to rectify the situation.

How do we evaluate his performance as a whole? The score depends not only on the place at the finish, but also on how he worked during the sessions, interacted with Lewis. Both of our racers are determined to approach the car and get more out of it in the next races.

George got used to the team very well. We had high expectations of him, and he lived up to them, so the team is happy. “


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