Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Hamilton faster than simulations predicted in Qatar despite “less powerful” engine

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was further ahead of Max Verstappen than Mercedes expected in Qatar despite not running the fresher and more powerful of his two available engines.

The team’s trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said they expected the Losail International Circuit, which F1 raced at for the first time last weekend, would be their weakest of the three final venues on this year’s calendar.

“We thought we’d be good here but this was the track that, of the three that remained as we came in here, [was] the one that we were perhaps most concerned about,” Shovlin admitted.

Valtteri Bottas led Friday practice times but Hamilton was over four-tenths of a second behind his team mate. Shovlin said Bottas hit the ground running more quickly than his team mate at the unfamiliar track.

“One of the big jobs that we had to do on Fridays work out whether our simulations have all kind of fallen in line with reality, get everything positioned in the right window. But a lot of the pre-event work we did was good.

“Valtteri actually started in a better place than Lewis. But then you saw from the first run of Saturday, Lewis was right there and kept that going right through the weekend.”

Hamilton officially took pole position by 0.597 seconds due to Verstappen’s quickest time being deleted. The true performance gap was still a healthy 0.455s, while Bottas was 0.651s off his team mate.

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“From Saturday morning it looked like Lewis had it all under control,” said Shovlin. “But it’s very difficult to predict whether the margin is going to be one tenth, two tenths, which is still a pretty handsome margin.

“We never thought it would be the amount it was. But it all came in that final run and for him turn one was good and he said from there, it just kind of flowed.

“But he’s really in the zone at the moment. We can do all our simulations but nothing explains why he was that far ahead of Max. Fundamentally it’s just down to him really sort of digging deep and doing what needs to be done.”

Mercedes fitted a new power unit to Hamilton’s car at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend but reverted to earlier hardware in Qatar. They intend to use the fresher, more powerful engine in the final two rounds on tracks with longer flat-out sections.

“There’s two that we are racing, and here we had the less powerful of the two in the car due to the nature of the circuit,” Shovlin confirmed. “So that side of it’s in a good place at the moment.”

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14 comments on “Hamilton faster than simulations predicted in Qatar despite “less powerful” engine”

  1. More psychological warfare vs Max!

    Though keeping back the better, newer engine should worry Red Bull, a lot…

  2. Hamilton’s Q3 laps were art in motion, these flowing circuits suit his style.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd November 2021, 13:24

    At this point, everything Mercedes says is only created to create a smoke screen. Seeing as no one other that Mercedes knows what engine has been used, naturally they can make this claim without anyone being able to refute. The fact they go out of their way to claim this, makes me think it’s, once again, nonsense coming from the Mercedes-team.

    Surprised Red Bull or any other team haven’t protested Mercedes using DAS again/still, as it’s easy to observe from the on-boards.

    1. Yeh… well done Bazza 👏

    2. Is it some sort of coping mechanism?

    3. you should written christian horner a letter. Im positive he will love your ideas.

    4. Max was only 4km/hr slower on the straights you know. So it’s the old Merc engine.

      As for DAS. Did you not see the Mercedes bulkhead in Brazil?! The humongous, shiny DAS device was clearly absent. You have to be drunk, high or downright psychotic to say you saw it mounted!

    5. @barryfromdownunder The ones creating a smoke screen are Red Bull The fact that Verstappen almost always choses downforce levels that make him have the lowest straight line speeds of all the cars does not mean that Mercedes are cheating when they are faster. Verstappen choses higher corner speeds over straight line speeds.

      In fact Gasly had a top speed of 344.6 km.h in Brazil. So Hamilton (330.3) was indeed faster on the straight than Verstappen (321.7) by 9km/h, but Gasly was still 14km/h faster than Hamilton. Honda must be cheating for Gasly to be so much faster!

  4. If it’s true then Mercedes currently has an advantage to a level that Red Bull never had this season. It would finally be the case that one of the cars broke free as definitively the fastest, for a season in which the pendulum swung more than once between them and the average performance delta is very small. But Max and Red Bull can pretty much still snatch the title, though. Probably the margin is still far away from 2014-16 levels anyway.

    1. @rodewulf Verstappen set several fastest laps on tyres of similar age to Hamilton’s. On race pace they were quite evenly matched. Also, of course Hamilton’s Q3 performances are simply a lot better than Verstappen’s. Especially the last fe races.

      But yes Red Bull seems to under delivered to where they should have been in Qatar.

      Still Verstappen lost the race when he had to start from P7 and he couldn’t lunge into turn 1. After that for either one of them it’s just a matter of cruising to the end.

  5. @barryfromdownunder

    So you want people to not believe what official Mercedes employees have to say about the topic, but to completely place stock in what you, someone not affiliated with F1 or Mercedes in any way have to say about something you have zero insight, knowledge, or experience with? Typical. It is to laugh….and believe me, I am.

  6. I love how mercedes always downplay the superiority of their cars in order to glorify Hamilton lol.

  7. Forgot who did the analysis, but it showed that Red Bull had lost pace relative to the rest of the field while Mercedes stayed more or less the same ahead. So the surprise would be more that Red Bull was much slower than they should have been rather than Mercedes being less slower than expected.

    1. Indeed AT have been surprisingly close the last few races. And this closeness has really exposed Checos lack of Saturday chops of late.

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