Mercedes felt "behind the curve" at Zandvoort after Friday struggles

Mercedes believes it was "behind the curve" in its fight against Formula 1 title rival Red Bull throughout the Dutch Grand Prix weekend ahead of its defeat on race day.

Mercedes felt "behind the curve" at Zandvoort after Friday struggles

Max Verstappen controlled proceedings at Zandvoort on Sunday to win the race for Red Bull and move back into the lead of the drivers' championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton and Mercedes were unable to answer to Verstappen's pace in the race despite their best efforts to get ahead via the undercut, twice pitting early to try and jump ahead into the lead.

Second place nevertheless marked a decent turnaround for Hamilton, who had lost most of his running on Friday after a lengthy red flag in FP1 followed by a power unit issue in FP2 that limited Hamilton to just one timed lap.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained after the race that the setbacks had left the team on the back foot against Red Bull.

"Even going into qualifying, because we did the medium [in Q1] and then we were on cold tyres because of a red flag going into Q2, it was quite late before we actually had a run where it was hot tyres out of the box that were fresh," Shovlin said.

"So we were just playing catch-up a bit. It was encouraging to see that we could get close [in qualifying]. I know Max didn't have a perfect lap.

"But the weekend, we've been a little bit behind the curve and trying to catch up, and need to get everything right to beat them."

Mercedes encountered particular struggles through the Turn 2 and 3 complex, with the banked Turn 3 posing a new challenge to the teams and drivers.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Shovlin revealed Mercedes found a different balance was required for its W12 car at Zandvoort than it had anticipated from its simulator work to prepare for the weekend.

"The banked corners are very unusual, and certainly the sequence of Turn 2-3 is quite tricky," Shovlin said.

"There may be elements that are quite specific to our car that make it difficult. But also when you're doing the simulator work, once you know a circuit, you know how to set up the simulator to replicate it very effectively.

"The balance we had on the simulator was quite different to the one that we had when we came here and started running the car on Friday. And that was why we had to move it a bit more in terms of set-up than we do normally.

"I think with a bit more knowledge, next year it will be easier, but some of it was just that coming to a new track, there's a lot that you don't know, and that just left us with a bit more ground to make up than we would have liked.

Read Also:

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said he expected the performance advantage to swing circuit by circuit, but that it had to execute its processes perfectly to beat Red Bull.

"We just need to be on our A-game all the time," Wolff said.

"And with these little lapses, with not being able to complete FP2 in a proper way, as a starting point, and then in the execution of the race itself, we just need to be… it needs the A-game to win the A-championship."

shares
comments
Alonso: ‘Pure luck’ unseen Turn 3 lock up didn’t result in crash

Previous article

Alonso: ‘Pure luck’ unseen Turn 3 lock up didn’t result in crash

Next article

Dutch Grand Prix driver ratings

Dutch Grand Prix driver ratings
Load comments
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Prime

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Prime

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings

Two drivers produced faultless performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left many to rue what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Prime

Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Prime

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021
How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams Prime

How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams

OPINION: The Formula 1 cost cap has been billed as a saviour to several teams and helped to guarantee their viability for investors. But there already exists another mechanism that effectively had the same purpose, and serves as a strong deterrent for those with the means to go it alone in setting up a new team

Formula 1
Sep 10, 2021