Mercedes hope Hamilton can recreate Istanbul GP2 passing masterclass after penalty

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Mercedes chose to incur a grid penalty by fitting a fresh engine to Lewis Hamilton’s car at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix in the expectation overtaking will be possible at the circuit.

The team has had mixed fortunes with the outcomes of its grid penalties for Valtteri Bottas in the last two races. At Monza he successfully climbed to third, but in Sochi he was on course to finish out of the points until a late rain shower gave him the opportunity to snatch fifth.

Mercedes head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin said they are hopeful Hamilton will be able to make better progress after he takes a 10-place grid penalty for fitting his fourth engine of the season at Istanbul. Hamilton produced one of the most celebrated performances of his pre-F1 career at the venue in 2006 when he climbed from 16th to finish second in a 23-lap race which featured no Safety Car periods.

“Working out how easy it is to overtake is actually quite hard,” Shovlin told Sky. “You know in your own mind which are the tracks that are good for passing. Sochi, though, has got a very long straight but we were struggling a bit with understeer, that made it tricky.

“But this is a circuit – remember Lewis in that GP2 race – he felt there was a lot of opportunity here, that should make for an exciting Sunday.”

Hamilton spun on the second lap of the GP2 sprint race at the circuit in 2006. He quickly recovered, passing a string of cars including that of championship rival Nelson Piquet Jnr. Hamilton passed Adam Carroll on the final lap to finish second behind Andreas Zuber.

Shovlin said Mercedes took the decision to change Hamilton’s engine and incur a penalty to reduce the chance of experience a failure during a race.

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“We’re simulating all the races to the end of the year,” he said. “There’s a balance of the risk of a reliability issue. Obviously the thing that you definitely don’t want to do is fail during a race and then have to take a penalty anyway.

“Then there’s also a performance element because the power units do lose a bit of horsepower over their life. The 10 place penalty is the bit that most contributes to that reliability element and the performance is the ICE itself. And it’s better to take 10 places than start from the back.”

As Mercedes have only changed the internal combustion engine in Hamilton’s car, and no other elements of the power unit, he will take a 10-place grid penalty. Had they changed multiple other parts as well, as other teams in the same position have done, he would have potentially had to start the race from the back.

If Hamilton qualifies poorly tomorrow, Mercedes could change further parts on his power unit without giving up many more places. But Shovlin said they are “unlikely” to do that.

“It’s a lot of fairly intrusive work when you start changing some of those elements during the race weekend. We’re pretty happy with the decision we’ve taken so far and that’ll be likely what we’ll stick with.”

Hamilton set the pace in the opening practice session by four tenths of a second from championship rival Max Verstappen. Shovlin admitted the team risked giving up a potential win by changing Hamilton’s power unit at this race.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “It does make it easier to recover.

“Could it be a race that Lewis would have won from pole? Obviously that balances a lot of things. But it is what it is and we just need to make the most of getting back and hopefully even have an opportunity to win.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    10 comments on “Mercedes hope Hamilton can recreate Istanbul GP2 passing masterclass after penalty”

    1. Shouldnt be much of a problem, especially since it is only ten places backwards. Podium guaranteed imho.

    2. Should be possible if he mimics his “Monza” GP2 setup, he can still chose to skip the spin though 😉

      Just like VER picked a low-drag setup like in Sochi. No need to be fast in Quali when you know you’re starting at the back.

      Hint: full GP2 Turkey race is on YouTube! Worth watching!!

      1. Oh, only a 10 place penalty

    3. I love having the closest battle in F1 years with the two rivals been forced apart via engine penalties. What a great spectacle.

      1. Yay. Who could have possibly known that there was going to be more races this year and even 3 sprint races…. hmm….

        Well done Baku!

    4. Find this an oddly naive comment from Shovlin. The 2006 ART was (in)famous for having bespoke tuned brakes, Hamilton spent the entire race overtaking by braking more than ten metres later (not to detract from his drive). The Merc is probably the fastest car here, but if there’s a DRS train it won’t be like the 2006 GP2 race, and I can’t see Hampton winning.

      1. Some comments here really amuse me. Oddly naive? You really think Shovlin doesn’t know that their car isn’t a 2006 GP2 car? Have you considered the fact that that statement may simply be a rallying cry or an expression of hope that his driver performs as well as he has in the past?

      2. @hahostolze The GP2 comment is probably referring to that’s how easy they believe it will be to come through the field on Sunday.

    5. Lewis’ car seemed to be the only one with a front end on it. If that persists he could get to 2nd or even win perhaps, but have to see what the others can do with setup for FP2.

    6. Or recreates Max’s performance last race?

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