At the Qatar Grand Prix Mercedes decided to copy what Red Bull was doing in terms of strategy and Andrew Shovlin explains why.
During the Qatar Grand Prix Red Bull decided to pit Max Verstappen two times in an effort to perform an undercut on Lewis Hamilton. However, Mercedes immediately called Lewis in each time.
In Mercedes’ race debrief Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin was asked if this was done to answer Verstappen’s strategy.
“Well, yes it was,” the Briton said.
“This is quite normal, when you get into a championship battle. If you are controlling a race, you are out front, you’ve built a gap and Lewis was very, very clear of any risk of undercut.
“The best thing you can do if you want to finish ahead of Max is just copy what he does one or two laps later.
“What you don’t want to do is to be on a completely different part of the track, a completely different strategy, because [if there’s] an unfortunate Safety Car, or maybe if the tyre degradation doesn’t pan out as you expect, you could end up losing that advantage.
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“If you see Max leading any of the remaining races, I think they will be doing a very similar thing.”
Lewis went on to win the race, but unfortunately Verstappen managed to pick up an additional point for fastest lap. Shovlin explains why it was impossible for Lewis to take it from him.
“Red Bull deliberately timed it so that from their stop, all that Max is able to do is an out lap and a flying lap so he can then take that fastest lap which he actually held anyway from the previous stint.
“With Lewis, if we had pitted after Max had pitted, all we would have been able to do was the out lap and that obviously doesn’t count for fastest lap.
“So it’s quite normal that you leave it for the penultimate lap, because when you do stop you open up the window for the race leader, and if you do it on the penultimate lap it means that they have no opportunity to actually set a proper lap time,” Shovlin concluded.