Mercedes explain their improved Silverstone pace

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Mercedes have explained the upgrades that contributed to Lewis Hamilton’s improved pace compared to Red Bull at the British Grand Prix.

Since winning three of the season’s first four races, Hamilton has struggled to match Max Verstappen’s speed in qualifying especially, never more markedly than at the two grands prix in Austria where the Dutchman extended his World Championship lead to 32 points.

But in the usual one-hour qualifying session at Silverstone which was moved to Friday evening, it was Hamilton who was fastest by 0.075sec to claim P1 on the grid for the following day’s initial trial of sprint qualifying.

Although the seven-time World Champion made a bad start to that 17-lap ‘race’ and finished second to Verstappen, he still claimed an eighth British Grand Prix triumph after an opening-lap collision between the duo that sent his Red Bull rival crashing out of the race.

Mercedes had said they would take upgrades for the W12 to Silverstone, which may be the last ones of any real significance this season as they focus on creating next year’s all-new car.

Explaining what those updates comprised, the team’s trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, quoted by GP Fans, said: “I don’t really want to go into the absolute numbers here.

“But it was quite extensive in terms of front and rear cake-tins, all the area around the bargeboards, the floor, so quite a significant amount of work on the car.

“We had struggled at recent races and they were circuits we have historically actually found quite difficult, certainly in recent years.

“The pace [at Silverstone] is a combination of two things. One is we are getting the car back on a circuit where it works well and we have also made a nice step in terms of aerodynamic performance.

“Those two together are really why you saw us able to take ‘pole position’ on Friday.”

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It ended up being a near-perfect weekend for Mercedes results-wise, for they nearly wiped out both of the big leads Red Bull had built up in the Drivers and Constructors’ World Championships.

“The big one for us was really we had brought an update kit to the car,” added Shovlin.

“We were going to a circuit that historically has suited our car very well, certainly suited Lewis very well.

“The bit that was kind of quite frightening coming in was if we didn’t perform here we would have had to take a long, hard look at ourselves.

“So aside from the championship situation and the points that were at stake, [and] the need we had to make sure the gap wasn’t going to grow any further, the big one was that we were absolutely desperate to see the car perform well and the team perform well.

“So it’s hugely reassuring to have been able to demonstrate we are still in the fight for the championship.”