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F1 | US GP | Mercedes: “One more lap and the result of the race would have been different” as Verstappen's tyres had hit the cliff

The Chief Strategist of the Brackley-based team is convinced that one more lap would have been crucial for Verstappen’s race but maybe not enough for Lewis Hamilton’s victory.

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F1 | US GP | Mercedes: “One more lap and the result of the race would have been different” as Verstappen's tyres had hit the cliff
Fuente imagen: Formula1.com

As almost one week has passed by, Mercedes still reflect on its data in view of the upcoming Mexican Grand Prix. Their Chief Strategist, James Vowles, with a detailed analysis of the race and the strategies they adopted, made clear that a one-stop race was not possible and not even in their plans.

He said: “A one-stop race was not possible with the tyres life we have this year; but also in 2019, although it was not that warm and the car was the fastest, Lewis tried to do a one-stop race and at the dying stages, he ran out of tyres and started struggling while battling with Verstappen. That was a pit-stop on the limit. This year, in addition, the conditions were different, as the track evolved; it was warmer and more aggressive on the tyres, so no, a one-stop race was not possible while a two-stops race was the best and the fastest strategy we had.”

In the final stages of the race on Sunday, both Verstappen and Hamilton started struggling with their tyres. On one hand, Verstappen experienced a very high level of degradation that caused him a big loss of performance, while Hamilton on the other hand, didn’t have tyres left to overtake him.

Vowles explains that the tyres of the Red Bull driver were going “over the cliff” which technically means that the degradation of the tyres is at its highest level and this causes generally a big lack of performance.

The Chief Strategist commented: “On tyre degradation every lap you put on the tyre, every mile you run, you take a certain amount of performance out of that tyre. To generate an overtake you need bigger and bigger difference of tyre use than the driver you are fighting with. Of course we could not control Verstappen’s degradation; we could just manage our tyre degradation and decide when to stop.”

Vowels is pretty sure though, that despite Verstappen was struggling in the last laps, maybe Hamilton wouldn’t have had the chance anyway to overtake him. He explained: “If Verstappen would have had the same degradation, two or three laps earlier, we would have seen a different result, but Red Bull managed very well the last stint and reduced the tyre degradation especially in the corners, as Lewis got close, making sure he had the tyres for the last few laps. Maybe if we had gone a lap or two earlier, Verstappen would have been closer on pit exit. He is on fresher tyres, so every lap he makes he gains time and increases the gap with Lewis on track; when Lewis stops he has to try and fill back the gap with him, and this makes him use the tyres again so that in the end, there’s nothing left in the race.”

On the strategy they adopted he said: “What you really want to find is the lap that minimizes the gap on exit and maximizes the effort at the end of the race. It was like that for us but Verstappen's strategy was so accurate and our predictions, unfortunately, were realized many laps later after we expected.”

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