The Russian Grand Prix had everything required for a proper Drive to Survive episode on Mercedes. The first lap drama fused with Hamilton’s 10-second penalty and eventually Bottas taking the checkered flag.
However, the one story that has taken the grid by storm is Hamilton’s penalty controversy. The team radio regarding the particular incident clarified that Hamilton was not at fault.
The team had given him a green signal regarding the practice start infringements, and thus they took the blame. However, Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin suspects a rival team for pointing the mistake out to the FIA.
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Mercedes may be a target for a rival team, not the FIA
“We didn’t think it was dangerous and given that the event notes said it was on the right-hand side after the pit exit we thought it might have been ambiguous enough that we would have.
“I mean when we saw the car position it wasn’t a complete surprise that they didn’t like it, and no doubt there may have been teams who flagged it as much as whether the FIA or the stewards spotted it themselves.”
The race engineer further clarified several other doubts in the context. The ambiguity regarding the track limits was the primary reason for the misunderstanding. Shovlin elaborated further by saying,
“Some places there’s a box that they paint on the floor and you’ve got to do it [the practice start] in the box; other places it’s kind of a general area,” said Shovlin.
Besides, it was clear through Lewis’ radio that there was a lot of rubber on the track. Therefore, the team sanctioned Hamilton’s suggestion of finding better ground. However, they hadn’t expected such a fuss about it.
“Often if there’s a lot of rubber [on the ground] it’s not going to be representative of the grip. The drivers – and also the engineers – will want to find a bit that’s closer in terms of the grip to expect on the grid.”
The grip testing was crucial, thus they violated the track limit
The key requirement for the practice starts is to ascertain how much grip a car gets on the track. Therefore, it was necessary for the team to check that area. No one realized that it would eventually cost Hamilton his place as a winner.
“What happened was Lewis asked if he could go a bit further [along the pit exit] – we hadn’t realized quite how far he was going to go. But it’s really just trying to find a bit of tarmac that is more like the one you are going to get when you do a proper race start.”
Though the story is pitiable, it illustrates Mercedes in the wrong. Their careless actions led to an enormous disappointment for the Briton; although he was standing on the podium, he had no enthusiasm in himself.
Taking Sochi for what it was, a lesson, the Silver Arrows look to the Eifel GP as an opportunity to help Lewis Hamilton earn the win he was robbed of in Russia.
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