Shovlin says Hamilton “made himself a victim” by doing experiments

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says “Lewis in particular is open to big set-up changes” and has “made himself a victim a few times” by doing experiments.

There has been a lot of talk since 2022 about Lewis Hamilton taking it upon himself to experiment with Mercedes’ troubled car in hopes that he can help the team come to grips with it.

The team’s Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says this has compromised his performance several times.

“It’s mainly about learning more about the car,” Shovlin told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Lewis in particular is open to big set-up changes this year. He wants to learn more about where he can get the most out of the car. He made himself a victim a few times.

“But if you don’t change anything, you won’t learn anything. It would be wrong to say: ‘That’s just the way things are, let’s make the best of it.’

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“The bottom line is that we have to manage to achieve a better vehicle balance so that we don’t have to live with so many compromises.

“It happens again and again that we solve one problem and get a new one in return. The aim must be to have a strong front axle without sacrificing stability at the rear and a car that steers well in slow corners without oversteering in fast corners.”

At this year’s Chinese Grand Prix Lewis finished second in the Sprint Race, but later qualified for the main race in P18. Shovlin explains why.

“We were no longer able to validate the changes we made between sprint and qualification in the simulator.

“There wasn’t enough time for that. And what he had changed in the vehicle provoked too much understeer. He tried to solve one problem and created another.

“During the sprint, both drivers had the feeling that a lot of the cars could be improved, especially in the slow corners. Both thought big changes were needed.

“Both then took different paths to find out more about the set-up behaviour of this car. The problem you run into is that with such a set-up change the driver hardly has time to get used to the effects.

“There were practically only two laps in Q1. That’s why Lewis braked at the end of the straight. He expected different behaviour.

“It had less to do with the set-up and more to do with a different reaction due to this tuning change.

“What have we learned from this? On sprint weekends, where you’re going from sprint to qualifying, it’s not an idea to make too big changes, even if the driver feels like there’s still something that could be improved.

“It’s better to give him a car that he knows and understands,” the Briton concluded.

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