Mercedes: We are "kicking ourselves" over lost Hamilton podium
McLaren and Lando Norris caught Mercedes napping in the closing moments of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, according to trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
After being hit with a five-second penalty for contact with the Red Bull of Alex Albon, Mercedes had accepted Lewis Hamilton would lose second position to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
What the team had not banked on was the pace of Lando Norris as the McLaren driver set the fastest lap on the final lap of the race to steal third from Hamilton by less than two-hundredths of a second.
“We accepted we’d lost the place to Leclerc, and normally penalties do give you an issue," said Shovlin. "We didn’t realise until it was too late that we were going to lose the place to Norris. That’s the thing we’re really kicking ourselves about."
Asked if the team had considered switching the positions of race winner Valterri Bottas and Hamilton, using the Finn to then back the pack up and create the five-second margin, Shovlin added: “It was something that was mooted."
However, electrical problems that manifested themselves early in the race prevented this strategy from ever being applied.
"But fundamentally, those are the sorts of things that can get messy, and also, when you’ve got cars that are struggling to run at full pace, we don’t know whether that might have even inverted the win if Valtteri then subsequently developed a problem that pushed him back or something," continued Shovlin.
"To be honest, we’re not regretting that we should have swapped them, because you could swap them, you could use one car to push the others back, to build the gap you need, but there were things that could go wrong and you regret if you go for that kind of approach."
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