Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton is becoming a convert to the benefits of the Mercedes simulator, which helped him significantly at Silverstone.
While many drivers find the sim a useful aid in learning how their car will operate on certain tracks, the seven-time World Champion has tended to be more reluctant.
Hamilton said earlier this year he had “no interest in the simulator”, driving around 20 laps a year in it, but before the Austrian Grand Prix he said he had been going in a bit more to try and uncover some more performance in the W12.
Then immediately after setting the fastest time in qualifying at the British Grand Prix, the 36-year-old revealed he had been in the sim that very Friday morning as free practice was not until the afternoon, taking advantage of the Mercedes factory being only just down the road.
It came at a time when the consecutive seven-time Constructors’ World Champions are doing all they can to try and climb back on top of Red Bull, who had won five races on the spin before Hamilton’s eighth triumph at Silverstone.
Achievement unlocked 🏆✅
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 22, 2021
Speaking of how the sim is growing on Hamilton, Mercedes F1 co-owner and team principal Wolff told Formula 1: “Yes, the simulator wasn’t his most favourite tool in the past.
“But I think we’ve developed it to a level that is quite good and made it best in class, and he’s started to see the benefits of it.
“This fight is so tough that you need to just grab every single marginal gain, and that’s why we’ve progressed together to better understand the car also with the tool of the simulator.”
It was not only the sim work that boosted Hamilton in his home grand prix because Mercedes also unwrapped some aerodynamic upgrades that reduced Red Bull’s pace advantage.
“The upgrades weren’t big, but if you keep adding them up it can make a difference,” said Wolff. “We are still a little bit down on performance, no doubt about that. I think in race pace it would have been pretty similar.
“[But] we halved the deficit [to Red Bull] in terms of performance and you just need to mobilise everything in your arsenal of weapons and that’s what [Lewis] is doing as a driver and we as a team.
“There will be trickier ones, there will be better ones, but scoring these big points [at Silverstone] is important.”