The Mercedes Formula 1 team has offered an insight into its
troubled weekend at the Brazilian Grand Prix. São Paulo held the
final sprint event of the campaign, with teams having just one
practice session on Friday to set up their cars for the weekend.
During the sprint race and the Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and
George Russell struggled for pace as both cars had high rear tyre
degradation. The event was described by Team Principal Toto Wolff
as Mercedes’ “worst weekend in 13 years” as it scored just 11
points – most of which came during the sprint race. Riccardo
Musconi, Mercedes’ Head of Trackside Performance, stated that
things only started to go wrong during the shorter race on
Saturday. “The long run pace we showed in free practice was quite
reassuring,” he said. “We didn’t think that we needed to change the
car around, so we went into qualifying, and the results were around
the third row. In a way, we were not pleased with it, and we felt
the car deserved more. “The alarm bells went out during the sprint
race because after the encouraging first two laps, the degradation
of our car was quite high, mainly coming from the rear axle. “At
that stage we worried about our performance on the Sunday. “We
organised for a simulator session back at the factory, looking at
the parameters we could change between Saturday and Sunday, as we
are in parc fermé because it’s a sprint weekend. “That doesn’t
leave us with many tools to play with. “We were hoping that
addressing some of the issues we experienced on Saturday, like
pushing very hard on the first couple of laps, doing a bit more
management and trimming a bit the balance of the car with the flap
would have been enough to put us in a more comfortable position for
Sunday.” More problems on the track However, despite its best
efforts to understand the issues ahead of the main race it couldn’t
eradicate its issues and also encountered fresh problems. “What
came out of Sunday was quite a bleak picture resemblant of our
Saturday,” Musconi said. “We improved the degradation a bit on the
rear axle but at the same time we started suffering from
understeer, so the car was struggling to turn the corners. “The
pace therefore wasn’t there and we couldn’t compete at the front.
“Did we consider changing the setup of the car? Well, we are in
parc fermé throughout the weekend with the sprint regulations so if
we were changing the setup on Saturday night, we’d have to take a
pitlane start on Sunday. “That means that you are released after
all the cars are passed by the pit exit, you need to catch up to
the back of the pack and cut through it which causes tyre
degradation. “So, for us from a strategical point of view, it was
off the table.”

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