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Hamilton damaging off “frustrating” for Mercedes as cars need to be kept "in one piece"

Hamilton damaging off “frustrating” for Mercedes as cars need to be kept "in one piece"

F1 News

Hamilton damaging off “frustrating” for Mercedes as cars need to be kept "in one piece"

Hamilton damaging off “frustrating” for Mercedes as cars need to be kept "in one piece"
Ian Parkes & Will Gray

Lewis Hamilton’s car-damaging off-track excursion during the Austrian Grand Prix has been described as “frustrating” by Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin as the cars ideally need to be 'kept in one piece' this season.

Shovlin believes Mercedes was the “makers of our own issues” after a poor qualifying performance left Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas fourth and fifth on the grid although he also blamed the seven-time F1 champion's run over a kerb for costing the team vital points.

“We’re not pleased with the results,” said Shovlin. “I think we would have been satisfied with a second and third, which was realistically the best we could have done.

“We were the makers of our own issues a bit with the poor qualifying, so that made it very, very difficult to be even thinking about challenging Max. In reality, his pace was too strong.

“The car’s not been working well, but then we had damage on Lewis’ car with some of the deterioration of some of the aero bits on the rear cake tin and that cost him a lot of performance and that ultimately dropped him from second to fourth.

"Overall a bit frustrating, both from a performance point of view and the fact that we need to keep the car in one piece.”

Shovlin's final remark is a reference to the fact in a budget cap era, and with the team also focused on next year's development of the all-new machinery, damage to a car is more costly than in previous years.

Mercedes needs “long-term look” at qualifying issue

Hamilton’s fourth place grid spot was only the fifth time he has qualified outside the top three since the start of 2019, as the Red Bull Ring clearly did not favour the Mercedes W12.

Hamilton and Bottas took a win each at the track last season but it was Verstappen who triumphed in the two years previously and this time even McLaren was putting the reigning champions under pressure.

Asked what happened in qualifying, Shovlin explained: “We haven’t been particularly strong here in general. That’s not so much evident in the gap to Red Bull but just how much pressure we were under really with McLaren.

“Lando did a great job and ended up ahead of us. This track isn’t suiting the car and we’ve not made any real inroads to that over the two races here, so that feels like a bit of a longer term thing to look at.

“Then also that very soft compound, C5, just wasn’t giving us as much in the hotter conditions on Saturday as we were getting from it on Friday. And there’s another question there.

“It wasn’t so much that we did anything obviously wrong, but when you look at where the performance order was, we would have to acknowledge that there’s something we’re doing that isn’t right.”

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