Mercedes' trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained their performance gains at the Qatar Grand Prix and the reasons for the team's dominant showing.
Speaking during a team race debrief on social media, Shovlin touched on the areas in which they gained performance and said:
“Now, in recent tracks, we have been matching Red Bull in the corners and extracting a benefit in the straight line, but in Qatar, it ended up being the opposite. We were matching them in a straight line and finding all our time in the corners.”
Watch Andrew Shovlin explain Mercedes' performance gains in the video below:
Mercedes was not only able to dominate in terms of qualifying pace in Qatar but also had the advantage over the Red Bull F1 cars in terms of race pace. However, since Max Verstappen and Red Bull were in damage-limitation mode after having to start seventh on the grid, the comparisons are slightly under-representative of their true pace.
Mercedes cornering performance made the difference in Qatar
According to the Mercedes trackside engineer, there are two areas where performance can be extracted in a qualifying lap: straight-line speed, and cornering performance. Shovlin explained that in Qatar, it was the balance of the car and its cornering performance which made the difference.
Explaining the performance gains on Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap, Shovlin said:
“Clearly, our package was working quite well there, helping us generate a lot of apex speed. But also, you have got the balance of the car, and thats the thing we tune with the mechanical settings, with the springs and bars, also the front wing, we can tune that. And for our drivers they had a balance that they were very happy with. They had stability on the way in, they could attack the corner, carry speed, and ultimately, you saw the demonstration of that with that fantastic lap from Lewis. But this week, it was all about that cornering performance that was delivering that pace.”
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton’s lap was almost 0.5 seconds quicker than Max Verstappen’s lap, an eternity by F1 standards. Another reason why they were able to gain performance in qualifying was because the Briton was able to string a lap on a clean track without traffic, as opposed to his rivals, who were hampered by waving yellows late in the session.