Mercedes can't account for 0.5s lost in F1 undercut to Verstappen

Mercedes still cannot account for half a second of the time Lewis Hamilton lost in the pits when Max Verstappen got the jump in Sunday’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

Hamilton was able to take the lead at Paul Ricard on the opening lap after Verstappen made a mistake at Turn 2, and worked to create a small gap through the first stint.

But when Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 19, he emerged from the pits behind Verstappen, who had come in one lap earlier and made the fresher tyres work to his advantage.

It paved the way for Verstappen to win the race for Red Bull after switching to a two-stop strategy, passing Hamilton again on the penultimate lap to extend his championship lead.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained after the race that the team’s modelling system thought Hamilton was safe from the undercut thanks to the gap he had opened up to Verstappen.

“We thought when we had just over three seconds to Max, we were safe from the undercut, and that wasn't the case,” Shovlin said. “Even now, we don't fully understand why our models were telling us that we would have been OK. So clearly there's something we need to go off and understand there.”

Read Also:

Shovlin said Mercedes had been caught out by the performance of the hard tyre on the outlap for Verstappen, but there was still had half a second missing from its analysis of the time lost that it could not account for.

“The hard tyre was good, and it was it was good out of the box,” Shovlin said. “But that's the bit we still need to go through because we haven't yet understood quite why we lost the position.

“We can account for about two and a half seconds of the three seconds. But it's something that we need to dig into the fine detail to understand how we were undercut from so far back because we weren't expecting that.”

Mercedes had triggered the early pit stops at the front of the pack by bringing Valtteri Bottas in at the end of Lap 17, fearing he was at risk of a failure after picking up a vibration on his set of mediums.

There was a window for Mercedes to bring Hamilton in one lap later, but Shovlin explained that the team thought it was still early if it wanted to make the hards last to the end.

“It was uncomfortably early to go to the end, which, I think as the race played out, you saw that that was the case,” Shovlin said. “And also the concern on Valtteri’s car was that he was getting an increasing vibration that was getting worse and worse every lap, that was starting to get to levels where we will box the car for reliability concerns.

“So really, the focus was on making sure that we didn't have an issue on track with him, so that was why we did it.

“In reality, Valtteri's stop triggered, the pit stops at the front of the grid. And that was what drove us to having to do a very long, long stint with Lewis.”

shares
comments

Related video

Russell: 12th on merit my best drive for Williams

Previous article

Russell: 12th on merit my best drive for Williams

Next article

How Perez derailed Mercedes' F1 strategy and fastest lap bid

How Perez derailed Mercedes' F1 strategy and fastest lap bid
Load comments
Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making Prime

Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making

The chaotic start to the Hungarian GP set the scene for F1's less heralded drivers to make a name for themselves. Esteban Ocon did just that to win in fine style, but further down the order one driver was making his first visit to the points and - while the circumstances were fortunate - took full advantage of the chance presented to him

Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph Prime

The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021