Mercedes to hone communication after Hamilton Russell confusion
By Ian Parkes
Friday 9th June, 2023 - 7:30pm
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has confirmed the team is to hone its communication skills in order to avoid a repeat of the incident during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix which saw Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collide.
Team principal Toto Wolff said there would be a review of the Q2 crash he described as “silly” and trivial was simply down to “a miscommunication” on the pit wall with their drivers.
Hamilton had attempted to pass Russell down the start-finish straight, only to change direction to his left and run into the seven-time F1 champion, forcing him onto the grass.
Hamilton said over the radio that Russell’s move was “dangerous”, although it was later shown the younger Briton’s eye line was trained on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who proved to be a key player in the situation for both drivers.
Explaining, Shovlin said: “Put simply, the drivers were trying to find a car finishing a lap to get a slingshot starting the lap themselves.
“That would give them more straight-line speed and you can find around a tenth (of a second), maybe a little bit more, on the straight. The car that was finishing its lap then peels in and they can then conduct the rest of their lap in clear air.
“The issue, put very simply, was that George and Lewis both tried to pick up Sainz as that slingshot.
“Lewis got on to the back of him around Turn 10. As he then came around to start the lap, George was waiting because he knew that Sainz was coming, (but) not realising that Lewis was just behind.
“Now, at the track in Barcelona, we were very keen to make sure we focused on the race itself, not to worry about what went wrong in qualifying.
“Now that we are back here at the factory, we will sit down and look at how we need to change our communication to make sure that we don’t confuse the drivers by not giving them the whole picture.”
Mercedes praise for Schumacher
Fortunately for Mercedes, the incident did not have an impact on the team’s sudden improvement in performance in the race.
Aided by the upgrades added to the car at the Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton and Russell delivered Mercedes its first double podium of the season as the duo finished second and third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It has emerged that a key turning point was the work conducted on the simulator by reserve driver Mick Schumacher on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday at the Mercedes factory in Brackley.
Post-race, Hamilton and Russell both praised Schumacher, who finally sampled the W14 on track on Wednesday in testing Pirelli’s prototype tyres for 2024 that are due to run without tyre-warming blankets.
“It is fair to say the single lap was challenging on Friday,” assessed Shovlin.
“There was a bit of overheating, the balance wasn’t quite in the right place, but the long run looked pretty solid.
“Now, what changed in between? As normal we’re running the simulator overnight, we had Mick driving, running through a range of changes.
“That work is analysed and the results of that are then discussed with those when we come in on Saturday morning and we can cherry-pick the best bits of that work and get them onto the car.
“It was definitely improved for Saturday but what was really good to see was how strong the car was in the race.
“The balance was more or less spot-on, it was looking after the tyres well and they were able to overtake.
“It was really encouraging to see George starting on the same row as Sergio (Perez) and able to finish ahead of him in the race itself.
“So, clearly good progress but a great job done by the team, particularly Mick and the simulator team overnight.”