James Allison on what went wrong with Mercedes’ car in Brazil

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes’ Technical Director James Allison says the difficulties the team experienced in Brazil were not caused by a fundamental issue with the car.

After two great performances at the United States and Mexican grands prix, Mercedes had one of its worst races of the season in Brazil.

After the race, the team’s Technical Director James Allison said there must have been a specific thing that went wrong, and the team is determined to find out what that was.

“I just wrote an email back to the factory saying I feel knocked for six by it because we came here, it would have been too much to imagine a repeat of last year because the stars would have to align for that, but I thought we’d be troubling the podium,” the Briton said.

“Now you could say well, you’ve been undone by your own hubris, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that we would have the torrid weekend we just had.

“In some ways, there’s a comfort in that because we must have just got something wrong and we’ll go off and uncover what that was.

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“And with a bit of luck, under the lovely thing that racing gives you, a couple of weeks’ time we’ll come back and hopefully put it to bed.”

Allison added the main problem for the team were the tyres.

“The main issue was hot rear tyres, which would give you a snappier end, and would give you the sort of tyre degradation we saw, but also an annoying amount of understeer.

“Now when you’ve got a balance that’s all at sea like that it’s very easy to nibble away, with every bit of throttle you put down, every turn of the wheel, a bit of the tyres.

“And we’ve got it in a place where a single lap face that was okay, very quickly became more than mediocre as we gobbled our tyres up. That’s normally a strength of ours.

“So, particularly upsetting to weather that storm here.”

Ultimately, Allison believes the drop in performance was not due to a fundamental issue with the car, but the way they set it up.

“I mean, every weekend, the job is to land the car in a place where it is as happy as it can be.

“Sprint weekend put particular pressure on that because you sort of get one go at it, maybe an adjust in the one hour you get, and we clearly haven’t landed in it where it did its best work.

“And that’s not an excuse, because it is a sprint weekend for everyone. And that one hour is what everybody has. But we generally get that right but not here.

“It’s too early to understand what we did or what we should have done, but by the time we figured that out, which we should be able to do before Vegas, and hopefully, we’ll make sure we don’t fall down that little hole again,” Allison concluded.

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