Mercedes Benz’s head of trackside engineering, Andrew Shovlin, has revealed that bodywork damage was the cause of Lewis Hamilton’s drop off in pace in yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
In what was another difficult race weekend at the Red Bull Ring, Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull’s pace, with Mercedes’s race further compromised when team leader Hamilton picked up damage before his first pitstop on Lap 29.
Hamilton then lost second after letting teammate Valtteri Bottas past, before losing third with sixteen laps to go to Lando Norris as Hamilton cruised home to fourth place.
Shovlin pinpointed how much the loss of downforce cost Hamilton, with the seven-time World Champion also damaging his rear tyres as he struggled with the damage.
"It looks like the bodywork damage for Lewis was at the end of lap 29 just before we came in; the downforce loss was around six or seven-tenths but as it was all from the rear, the balance became difficult, and we were damaging the rears with sliding."
As the Formula 1 circus heads to Silverstone in two weeks, Shovlin said that the team was the makers of its own problems in Austria as he also admitted that the Mercedes W12 hasn’t been working well in Austria.
“I think we would have been satisfied with a second and a third, which was realistically the best we could have done. We were the makers of our own issues a bit with the poor qualifying yesterday. So that made it very, very difficult to be even thinking of challenging Max.”
“I think in reality, his pace was too strong, that even if Lewis had stint one behind him, I don’t think we’d have troubled them. The car has not been working well, but then we had damage on Lewis’ car with some deterioration of some of the aero bits on the rear cake tin, and that cost him a lot of performance, which ultimately was what dropped him from second to fourth.”