Hamilton, Russell, Wolff and Shovlin comment on the Sao Paulo GP Sprint Race

© Stephen Reuss for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Toto Wolff and Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint Race.

Tyre degradation limits team to minor points in F1 Sprint

  • George Russell finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton seventh in Saturday’s F1 Sprint at Interlagos in Brazil.
  • Saturday morning’s Sprint Shootout saw both drivers comfortably advance to SQ3. Once there, they used a new set of Soft tyres to claim P4 and P5 on the grid for the afternoon’s F1 Sprint.
  • Both subsequently made strong starts to the 24-lap race, with George passing Sergio Perez off the line and Lewis following him through at turn four. George then overtook the McLaren of Lando Norris into turn 10 with an opportunistic to move to grab P2.
  • Unfortunately, that early promise evaporated as both Norris and Perez used DRS to regain the positions they had lost, relegating George to P4 and Lewis to P5 at the halfway stage.
  • As the sprint headed into its closing stages, both drivers were suffering from tyre degradation and that enabled the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and the Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsunoda to overtake Lewis.
  • As the chequered flag fell on the 24-lap race, George crossed the line in P4 and Lewis P7.
  • Attention now turns to Sunday’s Grand Prix where Lewis will line up P5 and George P8.

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George Russell

I had a good first lap but after that, it was a struggle. We expected the tyre degradation to be less than it turned out to be. We certainly didn’t expect to be outright quickest, but we were surprised by the pace delta to those ahead. That all came down to the tyres. Sometimes we seem to be able to get them to work, other times we struggle. It’s a shame but we clearly got it wrong today where others didn’t. We need to rectify that for tomorrow.

The track will be a little bit cooler on Sunday which may swing things more into our favour. We will obviously learn things from today too and make some changes. It’s likely to be at least a two-stop race, but I’m not as optimistic heading into tomorrow’s Grand Prix as I was this morning.

Lewis Hamilton

That was not an enjoyable race. We made a good start and managed to gain a position on Sergio Perez. After that though, we really struggled with the balance. We had a lot of understeer, then snap oversteer, and I was fighting the car from very early on. By the closing stages, I had run out of grip on the tyres, and I can only assume that we got the setup wrong. We will need to find a way to make some changes for tomorrow. I suspect it will be a long afternoon if we aren’t able to make improvements. I will of course be fighting as hard as I can, and trying to manage the tyres a bit better than we were able to today.

Toto Wolff

That was a difficult day. We pushed very hard at the beginning of the race, and we suffered from that in the later stages. The car was not balanced optimally, with the rear end not strong enough to live with the front. You’re having to drive the car on a knife’s edge but it’s almost impossible to do so. Both drivers were trying to hold on to the pace, but we didn’t give them a car to do that today. They were both subsequently sliding around a lot more than they would want and that killed the tyres. We need to go away this evening and work through what we can do to improve it for tomorrow. There are no easy fixes, but we will do everything that we can.

Andrew Shovlin

That was not a good race for us today. We likely pushed a bit too hard early on and it took a few laps to realise that we simply didn’t have the pace to race for a top three position. That hurt the tyres and caused us to suffer from high levels of tyre degradation in the closing stages.

We know that we’ve got what we’ve got in terms of the setup and that there are only a few tools to play with to make improvements. We therefore know that making a big step in performance for tomorrow is out of the question. However, there are a few things we can use to balance the car and there’s clearly a bit to learn about how we use the tyres across the stint. It might be a little cooler tomorrow and that could help; not so much that the tyres will be in a drastically different operating window though. It’s therefore imperative we can make progress overnight if we’re to avoid another tough race on Sunday.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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