Of course, most eyes are on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and the battle for the drivers’ title, but at the same time Mercedes and Red Bull are also engaged in a battle for the constructors’ title. Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez also play an important role in that, and now that Hamilton has a penalty, the message for Bottas is clear.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director at Mercedes, explains: RacingNews365 what is expected of the Finn. “Everyone is focused on Lewis and the drivers’ championship, but for us it’s clear what we want for Bottas: we want him to take pole position and win the race.”
Lewis Hamilton will start from at least 11th place and will have to work his way forward, but that is not to say that his preparation was only focused on the race. “We ran a normal training program for Lewis,” Shovlin says. “For example, we have evaluated some developments on his front wing. He is still going to participate in qualifying and we want to get him as far up front as possible.”
However, during the training there was already some ‘test run’ with driving in the wrong place. “It’s very different when you have a ten-place penalty compared to a start at the back of the grid. So it was really just a very standard program, in which we also deliberately drove a few laps in traffic to get a feel for the conditions in which we drive close to a predecessor.”
All in all, the goal for Hamilton is the podium, but whether that one, two, three will succeed, Mercedes is not yet very sure about that. “Whether we can get Lewis back to the podium will probably be determined by the first stint. The leaders in the race usually drive away from you.”
“In Sochi it was already difficult to predict how fast we would go through traffic, that’s the hardest thing to simulate: how close to your predecessors can you sit without losing a lot of downforce and ruining your tires,” the said. Mercedes man, who thinks it’s going to be a difficult story, but at the same time he also has hope.
“Overtaking is also very difficult here. It is often a bit more difficult in practice, because no one is driving long stints, so no one has a lot of problems with tire wear. It was more difficult to overtake than we would like, but hey, you don’t always get what you want. At the same time, we also saw that the car works very well. Both drivers had a strong day and that’s nice,” he concludes on a positive note.