Mercedes are at a bit of a loss to explain why and how Lewis Hamilton was so dominant at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The seven-time World Champion was a notable struggler after the first two practice sessions at the Losail International Circuit, but he came to life when it matter most, converting a dominant pole position into an even more dominant race win.
Hamilton bagged his 102nd pole position by a comfortable margin of 0.455s and secured his 102nd career win by finishing 25 seconds ahead of his title rival Max Verstappen in second place.
Hamilton has now won back-to-back races for the first time since Portimao and Barcelona – rounds three and four – but Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin revealed there was nothing in the team’s simulation data that suggested Hamilton would be that dominant in Doha.
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“We thought we’d be good here but this was the track of the three that remained that we were perhaps most concerned about,” Shovlin said, as quoted by The Race.
“From Saturday morning though it looked like Lewis had it all under control.
“It’s very difficult to predict that the margin’s going to be one tenth or two tenths, which is still a pretty handsome margin.
“We never thought it would be the amount it was but it all came in that final run. Turn 1 was good and he said from there it just kind of flowed.
“But he’s really in the zone at the moment. We can do all our simulations but nothing explains why he was that far ahead of Max.
“Fundamentally it’s just down to him really digging deep and doing what needs to be done.”
Shovlin’s confidence in both driver and the car also extends to the final two races of the season where Mercedes will be desperately trying to retain both World Championship titles for an eighth consecutive year.
He added: “It’s going to be tight, but we’ve got a car that is capable of doing the job and that’s giving us great encouragement.
“We’ll likely need to win both races, but we’ve got good reason to think our strong form from here can carry into the next two.
“It’s a big push to the finish from here but we’re looking forward to the fight and can’t wait to get back on track in Saudi Arabia.”