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Mercedes underestimated Verstappen: 'We thought the lead was enough'

Mercedes underestimated Verstappen: 'We thought the lead was enough'

24-06-2021 08:32 Last update: 10:16


At Mercedes things went wrong again in France, so fans asked Andrew Shovlin a lot of questions. The Mercedes engineer had to answer a lot of difficult questions in the Debrief.

Three races in a row have been won by Red Bull Racing, and that immediately means that Mercedes are on the backfoot. Why is it that Mercedes suddenly seems to have lost it all? Wrong choices are being made. Shovlin explains why.

Mercedes falls short

"Max was on pole by a quarter of a second. We weren't able to do that time. Our drivers did good laps, clean laps. But most of that was coming from the back straight, we weren't making enough up on the corners to get any closer. However, on Sunday when Lewis was in the lead during the first stint, it looked like Max was dropping back more than we were which was encouraging," the engineer said. 

"That is a picture we've seen. If you ignore Baku and Monaco, which are very specific circuits, we've seen this picture at previous races where Red Bull are a bit ahead on Saturday in qualifying, but when it comes to the race, we are right there with them or even a fraction quicker in terms of degradation or race pace," the Formula One team's Trackside Engineering Director said. There were also tactical problems, however, mainly due to Valtteri Bottas.

Taking Verstappen into account

"We were monitoring the vibrations that we started to see relatively early on in the first stint. And that was on the front left [tyre] and that was getting worse and worse. We have levels which we consider acceptable to run out, but if you go beyond that, the vibration can get so bad that not only can the driver not see, but you get damage to the car," he added. 

''With hindsight, we should have brought Lewis in a lap after Bottas. The reality was we had 3.2 seconds of clear air between Lewis and Max. We thought that was enough to protect the undercut. There's a couple of areas where we lost a bit of time, however, it wasn't the pitstop. They were very good. We lost a bit at the end of the lap and coming into the box, we also had some wheelspin leaving the pit box itself. But ultimately, the amount of time we thought we needed to protect against the undercut was insufficient," he concluded. 

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