Mercedes explains tow plan for Hamilton into Mexico Turn 1

Mercedes planned for Valtteri Bottas to help Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton by giving him a tow off the line in Mexico, only for Max Verstappen to overtake both cars.

After trailing Red Bull in practice, Mercedes turned the tables by taking a front row lockout in qualifying as Bottas pipped Hamilton to pole.

But Verstappen managed to sweep into the lead from third on the grid after a late-braking move around the outside at Turn 1, gaining an advantage that he converted into a dominant race win to extend his points lead over Hamilton in the title battle.

Hamilton noted after the race that Bottas had “left the door open” for Verstappen to pass around the outside, while the Dutchman admitted his overtake had been “really on the edge”.

Speaking in Mercedes’ post-race debrief, motorsport strategy director James Vowles explained how the fastest Turn 1 approach of the year in Mexico made it important to plan out a strategy.

Mercedes had intended for Bottas to make use of his grid position advantage to help give Hamilton a tow to protect him from Verstappen behind. 

“The strategy and approach to Turn 1 was quite straightforward here,” Vowles explained. “For Valtteri, if he had a good start, he was going to let Lewis tow along behind him and make sure that he covered off that threat from Verstappen.

“The starts, as they turned out, was that Valtteri had a slightly worse start than both Verstappen and Lewis - not a lot, around about four metres or so, but it was sufficient that Lewis wasn’t able to tuck up behind.

“More so, Verstappen's start being good meant he was alongside Valtteri very, very quickly. The result of that is they ended up three-wide incredibly quickly and early on during the run down into Turn 1.”

With the cars three-wide, Verstappen was able to take the optimal racing line into Turn 1, leaving both Bottas and Hamilton struggling with less grip. But Vowles did not feel that Verstappen’s line was enough to have led to such a big difference under braking.

“Even so the differences in braking should have been a few metres, not perhaps the difference that you saw,” Vowles said.

“Ultimately the drivers braked where they thought they could. If you saw Verstappen's comments afterwards, it is quite clear that he was going in there guessing and hoping for the best, and it worked out for him.

“We ended up losing out there as a result of it, and more so as we went into it, as you saw other cars perhaps locking up - [Daniel] Ricciardo being one of them, [then] contact happened and Valtteri got taken out and pushed to the back of the grid.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Vowles said that Red Bull had “a much better car” than Mercedes in the race, but felt there could have been more strategic options had the team held on to its advantage with both cars.

“Had we got away and been in first and second, I think there was a good chance that we would have been able to defend against the Red Bulls all race,” Vowles said.

“Conversely, if we were first but we had both Red Bulls tucked behind us in second and third, I think it would have been awfully difficult to hold on to the race lead. They could have stopped one car early, one car late and ultimately, we would have been a compromise with those two cars.

“Where we finished up, P2 with Lewis, was really correct based on performance sadly after the start had happened, and I am happy we held on to it.

“It was a defensive strategy we employed all race. Of course, in Valtteri's case really, he walked away with far less than he deserved. Had he not been hit in Turn 1, we really should have walked away with fourth at worst and third more realistically.”

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

The errors Verstappen isn't making when it matters in F1 2021
Previous article

The errors Verstappen isn't making when it matters in F1 2021

Next article

Masi: Alonso and Raikkonen both wrong in Austin F1 move

Masi: Alonso and Raikkonen both wrong in Austin F1 move
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Prime

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Motorsport.com heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Prime

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Prime

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. Mark Gallagher ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022