Mercedes fear ‘another Sunday looking silly’

Date published: August 10 2020

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes blistered tyre

Mercedes have admitted urgent work is required on their tyre issues to avoid being left “looking silly” in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Logistically, this will be the toughest turnaround for F1 teams of the season so far. Only once previously in 2020 have races been held on consecutive weekends at different circuits – in Austria and Hungary, which share a land border.

But Silverstone to Barcelona is a longer, comparatively more complicated journey and leaves Mercedes with less time to address and resolve why they were unable to manage their tyres as well as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

It led to a first victory of the year for a non-Mercedes car, with Verstappen making the most of his decision to start on hard tyres and being able to run a longer first stint than Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on the mediums – plus the Red Bull had stronger race pace.

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, believes conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya could be as challenging for tyre management as they were at Silverstone with high, midsummer temperatures expected.

He told RaceFans: “There’s an element of urgency here because we are flying out (to Spain) on Tuesday, running on Friday. It’s forecast to be 30C. The track will be a bit like Silverstone, it’s a high-energy circuit.

“So we are well aware that if we don’t get on top of it we’ve got another Sunday looking silly.”

Shovlin revealed there appears to be several reasons why Mercedes’ performance was “not good enough” in the second Silverstone race.

“It’s fair to say that on the hottest days we’ve looked less competitive,” he said.

“We knew blistering was an issue. We knew that last week, we were talking to the drivers about it on Sunday morning.

“What was news to us (in the race) was we are kind of at the very worst end of that problem and Red Bull appear to be at the very best end of that spectrum.

“That’s the thing we need to understand because there have been other races where everyone has been in the same boat. Why are we an outlier? Right now, we haven’t got the answer.”

Pirelli has nominated harder tyres for the next round of the World Championship which may allow Mercedes to “hide from” their problem, said Shovlin.

“If we don’t solve it, you can probably hide from it a little bit on that C1 tyre,” he said. “But we’ve still got to run the tyre that was causing us grief (at Silverstone). That wasn’t solving the problem for us.

“Red Bull are not that far off us in races even when we are looking at our best. So I think, to be honest, if we don’t make progress, we’ll be in trouble there (Barcelona) as well. So that’s kind of where this urgency to get a bit of a grip on it comes from.”

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