Mercedes looking to improve after ‘painful’ German GP
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expects his team to bounce back at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend after a ‘painful’ outing last Sunday in Hockenheim.
On home soil the team capitulated with mistakes from both drivers, the pit wall, and in the pit stops themselves.
It left the team, which had won nine of the season’s 10 races to that point, with just two points to its name for the weekend – and they came courtesy of penalties for the two Alfa Romeos.
Having debriefed the weekend, Wolff believes his team will be back on form in Hungary this weekend.
“We had a painful Sunday in Hockenheim. We made mistakes, took the wrong decisions and left Germany with only two points,” he said.
“But we love Formula One for the challenges it throws at us, as they present an opportunity to improve.
“On Sunday, we were united in our pain; on Monday, we were united in our determination to turn our weaknesses into strengths.
“We had a number of very open discussions about what went wrong and what steps we need to take to improve.
“I believe that one of the core strengths of our team is the way we handle defeat.
“We accept responsibility for mistakes so that we can learn and improve – and we will come back stronger from this.
“The positive is that the next race is only a few days away and that we have the chance to redeem ourselves in Budapest this weekend.”
One of the defining moments of the German Grand Prix was world championship leader Lewis Hamilton clouting the wall at the penultimate corner, damaging his front wing before immediately diving into the pits.
It triggered chaotic scenes as mechanics ran back and forth as they attempted to perform the unscheduled service.
“There was a lot of chaos when Lewis came in,” admitted Andrew Shovlin, the team’s chief trackside engineer.
“We were in the pits ready for Valtteri. He had decided to stay out and at the same time, Lewis had gone off track, hit the wall and broken the front wing, so he came in.
“We could see that he was coming in, but it takes the guys a little while to get the different tyres out but, also, we had this broken nose and we can’t lift the car on that to do the normal change with the jack, so we had to get different kit out to do that.
“It looked messy; there was a change of driver on the tyre call and we also changed the tyre spec from a soft to an intermediate tyre and getting the communication through to the guys when everything is so chaotic is very difficult.
“The guys in the pits actually did a really good job reacting to that and we at least got the right tyres on the right car, but those situations are very difficult, and they are not rehearsed.”
Later in the race both Hamilton and Bottas spun at Turn 1, the latter’s proving race ending.
“The balance was a little bit oversteery for the conditions,” Shovlin said by way of explaining the cause of the two spins.
“We obviously hadn’t run in those cold, damp conditions during the weekend, we didn’t get it quite right, but there was also the dry line and then a damp patch and with both of them.
“They just got a wheel on there, lost a lot of grip and it triggered it into the spin.”
Despite finishing 11th on the road, prior to be promoted to ninth courtesy of penalties for Alfa Romeo, Hamilton extended his championship lead courtesy of his team-mate’s retirement.
The Englishman now holds a 41 point advantage after 11 of 21 this season’s 21 grands prix, while the team holds a 148 advantage over Ferrari – a margin that, if it maintains, would see the squad wrap up the constructors’ title with three races to spare.