Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023

Mercedes reveal cooling error behind loss of pace in Hungarian GP

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Mercedes has revealed that a cooling miscalculation contributed to Lewis Hamilton missing out on third place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton had started from pole and lost the lead at the start, then ran in fourth until his first pit stop when he switched from medium to hard compound tyres. However he did not then push when on those tyres, particularly at the start of his stint, and lost several seconds to the cars ahead.

After his second pit stop, with 21 laps to go, Hamilton increased his pace. He overtook McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, but ran out of time to take third place from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who had successfully jumped ahead of the Mercedes through the pits. The pair were separated by just one-and-a-half seconds at the end of the race.

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin confirmed the team had to reduce its pace more than intended as it needed to prevent its cars from overheating.

“We had one issue where the way that we predicted the cooling had meant that we were under-cooled, so we are investigating why that wasn’t in line with expectation,” Shovlin explained in a video published by the team. “The consequence was that we had to ask the drivers to do lift-and-coast.

“This helps cool the power unit, but it costs lap time. It also meant that neither driver could really attack the cars ahead of them. Later in the race, we got into clearer air, so things were in a better window in terms of the temperatures. We could let them attack the cars ahead and we were able to show better pace.

“It was also that the degradation of the tyres was good. The end of our stints were looking better than the early parts of the stints. You could see that trend and decent performance, particularly for George [Russell], at the end of that first stint where he was going very well.”

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Russell had only been able to qualify 18th, hence he chose to start on a harder tyre, and he ran as high as fourth during his opening stint. He was back down to eighth by the time he made his first pit stop, having jumped several drivers who came in everyone, and he returned to track in 14th.

Like Perez, Russell did his second and third stints on the medium tyres. He climbed to sixth before making his second pit stop, which only cost him two places, and he recovered to sixth at the flag.

“Our simulations didn’t really have him quite get into the points,” said Shovlin. “It is a very difficult track to overtake on, so he actually exceeded the expectations of all our models and simulations. It was some really nice overtaking that he was doing and having to balance that with managing the engine temperatures.

“Obviously, he would have been a lot happier to start further up and finish further up. So we will try and do that next time.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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5 comments on “Mercedes reveal cooling error behind loss of pace in Hungarian GP”

  1. Ferrari level of incompetence

    1. Still quite a way to go. That requires them to eff up again and again. Oh, and pretend they did nothing wrong afterwards.

  2. The bigger issue for them was bringing in the tires too slowly. They figured this out at the end of the race when both Mercs were flying compared to everyone near them, because they had too much tire left. Look at Russell for example: he overtook Carlos and almost passed Leclerc on track, gaining 8+ seconds in the last 6 or so laps.

    1. I’m not sure we can separate the two with the data we have. If they had not brought the tyres in as slowly, there’s every chance this would have exacerbated their cooling issues. If they hadn’t had the cooling issues, they may have pushed harder anyway and taken the pain (if any) on the tyres later.

  3. Sounds like their simulator might need upgrading

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