Mercedes strategy boss, James Vowles has explained why the team’s drivers struggled in qualifying in Turkey.
With Lewis Hamilton qualifying sixth, 4.7s off Lance Stroll‘s best, and teammate, Valtteri Bottas ninth (+ 5.4s) it was the first time the German team hasn’t had a car on the front row of the gird since Brazil last year.
In the team’s latest debrief, strategy boss, James Vowles reveals that the root cause of the team’s woes was the inability to generate sufficient energy into its tyres in qualifying due to the minimal amount of running.
“In Q1 when cars were on the wet tyre doing multiple laps, we weren’t poor relative to the field at that point, in fact both of our cars were in the top five, he explains.
“But at the end of Q1, after multiple red flags, we saw the true extent of the problem,” he continues. “All teams, all drivers had just one timed out on the wets to make it work.
“It’s about tyre temperature and getting the tyres into the correct window,” he adds. “In Q2 it was a long run on wets for everyone and again, we were offset by Verstappen by two seconds. Not the differences we were seeing at the end of Q1 but even so a large, large performance offset.
“In Q3, Stroll did exactly the same run plan we did, with one timed lap on wets followed by two timed laps on Intermediate tyres after it was proven to be faster.
“So if you dig into why, it is all about the energy that you are putting into a tyre, which the engine will produce energy as you turn and rotate the rear tyres and generate slip, the brakes will generate energy, both front and rear, and again that will go into the tyre.
“But obviously the ground is wet, and the rain is taking away energy from the tyres continuously, so it is all about putting more energy in than is being taken away by the conditions.”
Though unlikely, due to their geographical location, Vowles warns that the issue could reappear in the remaining races..
“In all likelihood it could reappear again in the near future and we need to be prepared,” he warns.