Mercedes director of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin has explained how the team's struggles prevented Lewis Hamilton from taking a strategy gamble that would have improved his fortunes at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The seven-time F1 champion spent the vast majority of the race at Imola staring at the rear wing of Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri after failing to make progress from a poor qualifying performance in the sprint.
A window of opportunity was opened as a dry line emerged following a wet start but the call to pit for slick tyres was made at the same time as Mercedes' midfield rivals, meaning Hamilton then became stuck in a DRS train in the second half of the event.
On why the team failed to pit the British driver a lap or two earlier to jump those in front of him, Shovlin said: “Well, with the benefit of hindsight we would have done.
"If you look at the issues, though, as to why we didn’t do that, there was a dialogue with Lewis.
"We had a car all weekend that was struggling with warm-up and going out on slick tyres on a damp track is a very challenging situation. Really we need to understand why we've got this warm-up problem.
"We know from previous races, from previous damp qualifyings, that those are conditions that Lewis excels in. He is very, very good in those changing conditions.
"But as I said, there is an underlying problem we've got with this car. It is very difficult for us to generate temperature and we need to fix that before we’ll get back into a situation where we can really gamble on those changing conditions.”
Why Hamilton couldn't pass Gasly
Despite Mercedes' struggles this season, the team has largely been the third-fastest team behind Red Bull and Ferrari, with Hamilton's team-mate George Russell the only driver to finish in the top five in each of the opening four races.
But whilst Russell made his way from 11th to fourth at Imola, Hamilton was stagnant. Describing the issues he had in overtaking Gasly, Shovlin insisted: "It's the same problem that we had in the sprint race.
"When you are in what we are calling a DRS train... now, the combined effect of the DRS in Imola plus the tow gives you around half a second of advantage to a car that you are following.
"The issue is that if that car is following another car and they themselves have DRS, almost all of that advantage is wiped out and that was principally the issue that Lewis had.
"Because Gasly had DRS, they were following almost an identical speed profile down the straight. Lewis wasn’t really able to get alongside and that was why he spent the whole race rather frustratingly stuck in that position.”
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