Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Mercedes admit they were “too slow” to respond to Vettel threat

2018 F1 season

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Mercedes technical director James Allison said the team didn’t respond quickly enough to the threat posed by Sebastian Vettel switching to a one-stop strategy in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari originally planned to bring Vettel into the pits twice on what was theoretically the faster strategy. Mercedes chose to put Valtteri Bottas on a one-stop strategy, switching him to the harder medium tyres after Vettel’s first stop.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018
Analysis: Why Bottas couldn’t pass Vettel – or catch him sooner
However Allison admitted they then took a while to realise Ferrari had decided to let Vettel run to the end on his soft tyres.

“We were probably a little bit too slow to recognise the threat that Sebastian was actually going to take those soft tyres all the way to the flag,” he said.

“Had we been slightly quicker to react to it we probably would have kept more pressure on him in the laps 35 to 45 and we might have had a better outcome as a result. We expected him to stop again but he did very well in nursing those tyres all the way to the flag.”

Allison also indicated its drivers could have run the soft tyres to the end of the race if it had chosen to.

“The tyre wear of our car this year has been very good and in general better than the field.

“Whether specifically we could have made the soft tyres last the number of laps Sebastian did we would only know by trying. My guess is we would because our car is looking after its tyres very well in the races this year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 19 comments on “Mercedes admit they were “too slow” to respond to Vettel threat”

    1. Like in pre-season, Allison is not satisfied. The Mercedes is not as good as they wanted to be. They need not to worry, they’ll eventually start to dominate the championship but 2 wins have slipped, uncharacteristic.

      1. I would not say that our car is horrible because he clearly said that our tyre wear has been better than the field. You can see that Valterri was catching Sebastian at the end of the first stint and Lewis’ pace in Australia, while in the dirty air of Sebastian, was a bit alarming because he was able to keep up before the temperatures just rose up and overtaking was a real pain there. I know James has a reputation of designing cars that are gentle on the tyres, most recently the 2015 Ferrari and the 2012 lotus and he might have just designed another one but we need to see Shanghai first before jumping into this conclusion because Shanghai is another high tyre wear track even though Mercedes is well known for being great here. Remember they took their first win in 2012 there. Although, I still believe that without the pit stop blunder by Mclaren, Nico would have had a serious job on his hands for the lead.

    2. The tyre wear of our car this year has been very good and in general better than the field

      Smoke screens.. according to Bottas there is a serious problem with tire temps. This is in my opinion a sign of bad tire “management” by the chassis and the driver has to cool them down . Doing that he will no succeed in keeping up the performance.

      Running the tires hot for a prolonged amount of time will result in lots of tire problems. So the Merc is not so forgiven with it’s tires it seems.

      1. Well, Pirelli are shaving off the tread in 3 European races, aren’t they? That ought to help Mercedes in reducing heat generation/retention.

      2. So why didn’t Hamilton’s tyres have this problem? Or eat least he managed to go 1 sec a lap faster seemingly forever.

        Granted he would have a better race setup since he had that grid penalty, but still.

    3. “The tyre wear of our car this year has been very good and in general better than the field.

      Yet it was supposedly so bad with blisters following testing they even requested Pirelli changed their tyres which they duly did. Seems Vettel was right in suspecting this was all a ploy.

      1. Do you have any articles to support your claim? Or it just some tin foil theory?

      2. SparkyAMG (@)
        11th April 2018, 17:11

        @balue

        Blistering and tyre wear generally aren’t related.

        The former is due to excessive heat generation and the latter is more simply the amount of rubber that is worn off during a stint.

        1. @sparkyamg But isn’t blistering simply the most dramatic form of tyre wear?

          And what causes blistering if not overheating, and does not overheating wear the tyre more than usual?

    4. But in saying this, Mercedes are themselves effectively admitting something that everyone already knew – that they have the fastest car on most circuits and conditions and it takes mistakes by their team or drivers for someone else to win.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        10th April 2018, 21:06

        As some say, I think Mercedes are sometimes just too used to being the best that they make mistakes when there is a better team or two on track. Remember Monaco 2015. Even though Hamilton was well ahead, the team just seemed so under pressure that they made a mistake with Hamilton and he came out of the pits from 1st to 3rd. Then there was Hungary last year. This is a bit harsh on Bottas as he had done a better job than Hamilton in qualifying. If it was just a straight fight, Bottas probably could have kept him behind the whole race as it was really hard to overtake. But Hamilton was faster. And the team too ages until telling him to go past at which point it was too late to possibly challenge the Ferraris. Then in Australia this year, I think they made a mistake with Hamilton and not judging what Vettel could do very well. And then not telling Bottas to push soon enough this weekend. I blame the team more than the drivers. They just don’t seem to work as well when they are under pressure from other teams.

        1. Have to disagree with hungary, they gave the team order early enough, it just wasn’t possible to overtake cars that weren’t a lot slower there, just like in australia.

    5. I don’t understand, because it was obvious within just a couple of laps that Vettel was not going to pull the required gap on BOT, and that Ferrari were seemingly not trying to, implying they’d made the decision to run one stop.

    6. How great would it have been if Bottas close the gap right away putting pressure on Vettel.

      But instead they managed the gap so they could manage the engine and Bette was able to manage his tyres.

      1. Bette must be vettel

    7. Mercedes have tons of strategists at the track and at the factory, softwares to help them and they can’t predict the possibility of a 1-stop from Vettel? Massive failure, and they’ve now lost possibly 2 races out of 2 for strategic reasons. Mercedes knows how to build a car but not how to race it.

      1. who have nothing to do with motorsports, except they are fans of F1.

        After Spain last year I can’t agree.

    8. Complacency perhaps saddled with a mistrust of engine reliability. Why else would they be lapping in the same neighbourhood as VAN and ERI during stretches of the medium stint under no pressure?

      It’s a long season, but it’s bubbling up nicely with Merc’s thermal illness, i.e. suffering under higher ambient temperatures still not cured and their continued ravenous appetite for softer rubber. Just to keep their power edge in check and make it a season during which at least three teams are in regular contention, I hope Merc continue to err on strategy as their competition capitalise on the opportunity to explore strategies employing the softer compounds on which Merc struggle.

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