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Why Hamilton's "better jump" led to 'mission impossible' in Mexico

Why Hamilton's "better jump" led to 'mission impossible' in Mexico

F1 News

Why Hamilton's "better jump" led to 'mission impossible' in Mexico

Why Hamilton's "better jump" led to 'mission impossible' in Mexico

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed how Lewis Hamilton's better start over team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the Mexico City Grand Prix was the catalyst for Max Verstappen's victory.

Starting from a wholly unexpected front-row lock-out spearheaded by Bottas, but facing the second-longest run into a first corner in F1, Mercedes' plans unravelled within seconds off the line.

"It is a very long run," said Shovlin. "Of all the circuits to get a front-row lockout...we were worried by all the things that could go wrong with tows.

"The drivers talk about how they can choreograph themselves but the reality is, once the lights go out, it is very difficult to stick to your plan because it is never quite as you might imagine."

While both drivers made a strong start, Hamilton's was marginally better, resulting in him quickly ending up alongside Bottas rather than filing in behind to act as a buffer to any Verstappen attack.

The situation was exacerbated by the fact Bottas inexplicably chose to shuffle across to the middle of the track, providing an opening to his left that Verstappen exploited, aided by a superb moment of late braking into turn one.

"It was almost unfortunate for us that Lewis got a better jump than Valtteri," assessed Shovlin. "Lewis got a good jump alongside so he was unable to tow off Valtteri.

"If you watch the overhead, it is easy to see what they could have done differently to prevent Max from having the opening on the left side.

"The reality is, we knew lap one would be one of our vulnerabilities. It wasn't for bad starts, it was just the way it all shook out.

"They weren't able to block him and I don't think we were as good as them in braking for turn one. Max did a very good job at that and ultimately, that was another area we were a bit weak - we weren't able to brake deep enough."

Shovlin has confirmed that given Verstappen's pace, the team quickly realised a win was never on the cards, and that it was about salvaging second place ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Asked for his thinking at the end of lap one, Shovlin replied: "You are always trying to deal with the situation in front of you. You are not really crying about what hasn't gone your way.

"But you know instantly that having one car there is going to be difficult, and you know that the next five to 10 laps are going to give you a very clear picture of the pace.

"Once we could see that Max clearly had the legs on Lewis and Perez was able to keep up, it shifted our focus away from making sure we didn't lose P2 rather than trying to achieve the impossible with Max.

"It was pretty clear it was not a day we had a car to win."

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