Mercedes have explained how Lewis Hamilton lost precious time during the VSC period in Baku and said that the reigning World Champion was not to blame for the setback.
A Virtual Safety Car came into effect when Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull came to a stop, a period which saw Hamilton go from two seconds behind race leader Valtteri Bottas to four seconds.
Hamilton took responsibility for the loss in time in the immediate aftermath of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Mercedes say that was not necessarily the case.
“We asked Lewis to do a number of switch changes, which is normal, to put the car into a more ‘performant’ mode,” explained Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles.
“But with every change, he lost sight of what [the] delta time was.
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Vowles went on to say that Bottas also had an advantage on his team-mate just by where he was on track when the VSC ended.
He added: “The other factor that was contributing here was that if you are in a straight line – for example, turn 16, long straight – and the VSC ends, all you have to do is get on the throttle and go straight.
“But Lewis wasn’t, he was in a braking zone for a VSC, one of the most difficult situations because it’s very difficult to modulate where you are on the delta time and get ready for the VSC restart.
“A combination of all of that put together means that Lewis didn’t make a mistake. It’s where he was on track and a number of switch changes that just masked where he was in exact delta time and he lost around two seconds.”
Hamilton also called for changes to be made to his dashboard to avoid the same issue happening again and Mercedes will be implementing tweaks ahead of the next race in Spain.
Vowles said: “We, from our side, can certainly do more work to make that better in terms of a dash display [in] Barcelona, and we will do. The luck of the draw as to where you are under the VSC, unfortunately, will always be the same way.”