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Mercedes seeking answers to hypersoft struggles before Canada

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Mercedes seeking answers to hypersoft struggles before Canada
By:
May 30, 2018, 7:02 PM

Mercedes admits it has to find answers to its issues with the hypersoft tyre before next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, after struggling in the Monaco GP.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leads Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leads Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H
Third place Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, arrives in Parc Ferme
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 in the Press Conference
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, fills the shoe of Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing with Champagne
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Victor Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14, is greeted by marshals waving flags, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 and Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leads Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09

The new Pirelli compound was introduced in Monaco, and will be used again in Montreal. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled more than their main rivals on the new tyre, to the extent that the team even tried to get them through Q2 on the ultrasoft, so that they wouldn’t have to use the softest compound in the race. 

That tactic didn’t work, and both drivers suffered extensive graining on the hypersoft in the race. Since then the team has been studying what it can do to make the W09 work better on the softest tyre in Pirelli’s range.

“That’s what we’ve been doing a fair bit of work on this week,” said trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin in a Mercedes video debrief. “We saw other people up and down the field in a similar situation, but crucially for us the Red Bull looked stronger, and the Ferrari looked stronger. 

“Now we’ve got some pretty good ideas of what went wrong, and we’re going to be doing a bit more work back here to fully understand that, because we do need to get on top of that for Montreal. 

“We’ve got the same tyres, you could have similar problems, and we need to make sure that we’re not exposed. In Montreal if you lose pace, and you’re suffering degradation, people will pass you very easily.”

Monaco deficits

Along with the tyre issues, Mercedes struggled for raw pace against its main rivals in Monaco, and that too has been a focus.

“It’s another thing we’ve been working on this week, trying to understand exactly where the deficits are,” he added. “In qualifying we were a bit behind, and to be honest we went to Monaco not expecting to match the Red Bulls. They always look good at the very high downforce circuits, circuits with slow speed corners. Monaco is a race where we’ve not dominated for a long, long time.

“The reality is it will be a combination of many, many things. In qualifying I think we were getting the tyres to work quite well, it was just a question of grip, and also downforce, and keeping them cool in that final sector. We were good in sector one, but it’s quite difficult to put the whole lap together. So I think there we’re just looking for small differences.

“And then in the race though understanding this graining on the hyper was another matter, that won’t be just down to the car performance, so we need to look at what we were doing with the car, how we were using it, how we were setting it up. 

“And we’re doing some work now to try to understand all of those issues. But as I said, invariably and it’s often the case when you suffer a performance problem, it isn’t just one thing, it’s a combination of a lot of factors.”

Hamilton strategy switch

Intriguingly, Shovlin also revealed that in retrospect Mercedes would have run a different strategy with Hamilton in the race.

The World Champion went to ultrasofts at his very early stop, a move later copied by all the other top five runners – except teammate Valtteri Bottas, who switched to supersofts. The Finn subsequently showed good pace on the hardest available tyre, and Mercedes now says it would have been a good choice for Hamilton.

Shovlin added: “We had tried that tyre with Lewis on Thursday, and he’d found it a little bit difficult to generate the grip. It’s a harder tyre, it needs a bit more work to warm it up. The other thing is we expected the race leaders to go onto the ultrasoft, so it made sense to have Lewis there on the same tyre.

“If we were running the race again we would have probably gone with the supersoft with Lewis, because it was durable, and it was quick, and we saw that with Valtteri, who was having quite an easy time on that tyre to the end of the race.”

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