Chief Strategist James Vowles answers your questions from the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix...
RNB44 (@RnbRnb7) got in touch on Twitter asking:
- Various stories about issues with Lewis' car. Can you clarify what was actually wrong with it?
James Vowles: "We had a cooling issue on the chassis side that appeared very, very early on in the race. It appeared during the Safety Car.
"What this meant is the Power Unit was becoming very, very warm. We tried a number of counter-measures, both through switch changes Lewis had to complete for us and driving style.
"So, Lewis really adapted to the situation as best he could to stabilise and keep the Power Unit temperatures under control.
"Lewis did a good job, he was able to do so, and we were able to get somewhere reasonable in the first stint of the race but we were still too warm.
"During the first pit stop, we came in and made an adjustment to try and alleviate and relieve the situation as much as possible. As Lewis went back out, it was a bit more comfortable and you saw later on in the race, he had a little bit more performance and was able to bring the fight to Ricciardo.
"Just, unfortunately, the damage was done far too early in terms of his race and his performance, which just meant fifth is all we could get with him on the day."
Yannick (@yanninho10) left us a comment on Instagram querying:
- Couldn't Lewis have stayed out after Max went into the pits? Wouldn't the clear air have helped get the engine temperatures down?
JV: "Lewis was around two seconds behind Max so he wasn't tucked up behind him. We were getting a reasonable amount of clean air into the radiators.
"The decision to stop or not was based fundamentally around several factors. The first was we knew we could help the situation with this hot Power Unit during the pit stop, so bringing that as early as possible would be of benefit.
"The second was that we believed based on everything we had seen to that point, the SuperSoft on an out-lap would be as fast as the UltraSoft was after 16 or 17 laps.
"So, it'd be a balanced race. We knew Ricciardo was extremely fast, he was now half a second behind Lewis and able to close that gap right up.
"All of the traffic had gone out of what we call the pit window, so if we make a pit stop both us and Ricciardo would be in free air.
"We initiated the stop in order to a) make the changes and help the Power Unit and b) in the hope we would be as fast as Ricciardo.
"When we came in, Ricciardo was incredibly quick. His in-lap was around seven and a half tenths faster than what the pace Lewis was able to achieve in that state, and he was able to overcut us."
Junaid (@JunaidSamodien_) sent us this tweet:
- How much performance was lost when removing the "quick removable louvers" to aid cooling your car?
JV: "We knew that we had various elements of our cooling configuration that are removable and during a pit stop, we can make a change. There are two losses here.
"The first loss is that actually during the pit stop itself, you are asking the guys to do a fairly complex job in a very short space of time. Remember, the pit stop really only lasting around two or 2.2 seconds.
"The second is that the car as it goes back out on track again is in a slightly different aerodynamic configuration, simply because panels that were there have been removed.
"So, let's answer both of those. The pit stop itself, how much slower was it? Actually, the effect was largely negligible, it's a few milliseconds and up to a tenth really.
"The guys did a fantastic job and by the time the guns came back on to put the wheels back on again, they were removing their hands from the car. So, ultimately, during the pit stop in Montreal there was very little to no loss.
"The second question is how much slower was the car out on track? The reality behind that is it's a matter of milliseconds from what we did with the cooling change.
"But, more importantly, it gave us the ability to use more of the Power Unit performance, give Lewis a car that now wasn't struggling like it was in the first stint of the race so he can now go back and attach others. That performance benefit significantly outweighs anything that happened on the cooling side."
Kevin Joly (@vinke_off) queried on Instagram:
- Was there any two-stop strategy plan if there had been a Safety Car?
JV: "Valtteri always had a car, Verstappen really, in what we call the Safety Car window, the region behind that if we were to stop, Verstappen would be in the way and we'd lose position to him.
"The way the tyres were in Montreal, they were very consistent and very robust and even after a Safety Car you wouldn't have seen the performance differential required to overtake and get back through. So, Valtteri never had that on the table available to him and we never used it.
"With Lewis, conversely though, there was a plan under multiple Safety Car conditions where we would've come back in and fitted the UltraSoft tyre. He had a number of circumstances that would've benefitted him.
"The first is that when Kimi had stayed out, under that situation Kimi would've stopped and gained position but we would've lost no positions to cars behind. So, it would've given us an opportunity that others didn't in front including both Red Bulls.
"But once Kimi had actually stopped and ended up behind Lewis we removed that plan from the table, simply because it would just be a loss of position relative to Kimi, we wouldn't get it back, the UltraSoft to SuperSoft was just a negligible difference and not enough that you would've been able to overtake again."
Arif (@arif_igdebeli) sent us this question on Instagram:
- How much engine management was done during the race and do you feel it cost both Bottas & Hamilton some points?
JV: "The engine itself, 21 races, just split it into three if you did it that way, each one has to do seven races near enough.
"We took with all six Power Units, that's across Force India, Williams and ourselves, all six of those made it to the end of that sequence without any significant issues.
"So, we are a third of the way through that season on the first Power Unit and that itself is an incredible achievement. In terms of what happened in the race with both Valtteri and Lewis, both of them drove the Power Unit as they did in the first race.
"There's no additional management, no additional switches or modes, or turn-downs. We are effectively using the Power Unit to its full benefit.
"What happened with Lewis was an entirely unrelated chassis cooling event, nothing to do with the actual Unit itself.
"You saw with Valtteri, he was able to use it to good effect, second in qualifying and maintaining second in the race."
Thanks Justin (@JustinChow33) on Twitter for this question:
- Why was it so hard to overtake in Canada, especially since they added a third DRS zone? Normally Canada is a great place to overtake.
JV: "You are correct, if you looked at it, the track is a lot of straights and all of those straights have DRS on. It should lead to some amount of overtaking but you need the right conditions to be able to have those overtakes as well.
"Us, Ferrari and Red Bull all set fastest laps of the race that were within a tenth of each other on slightly different laps. So, in other words, the base performance of the top three teams was incredibly close here. Ferrari and Vettel were a little bit quicker and pulled away from Valtteri but settled into a pace.
"But, to get overtaking, you need those cars to be enough of a performance differential apart to promote that. The second is you need tyre degradation, so you need the tyres to drop off sufficiently that a car in front of you that you are trying to have slightly worse traction, slightly worse braking stability to get the overtaking. Not just the function of the DRS zone.
"Pirelli were requested to this year to make a tyre that the drivers could push hard on, can maximise the amount they want to get out of them and not manage them like they did before.
"Pirelli have done that, but conversely we have a tyre now that doesn't degrade anywhere near the extent it used to and not enough to be able to create those big performance differentials required for overtaking.
"In terms of the DRS zones, they extended the long one on the exit of the hairpin down into the chicane and that had an effect as long as you were close enough to a car and you had a performance differential or tyre differential, you would've been able to overtake.
"The other DRS zone that they added really was just there to close you up a little bit more before the hairpin. No real overtakes would've taken place there, it's just a little bit too short. So, bringing that all together.
"We didn't have the overtakes perhaps we were expecting but that's because near enough you have got a lot of teams that are very, very close to each other on performance and tyres that aren't just quite degrading at the level needed to promote that effect."
Zach (@cityzenforlife) tweeted us asking:
- Why do Mercedes struggle so badly on HyperSofts? Also, why didn't you guys take more to Canada to run in free practice?
"Let's tackle the first and really important part of it. We simply didn't bring enough HyperSoft tyres to Canada to prepare our drivers in the best way possible for qualifying. We would've needed at least one more set available to them.
"The way tyres are chosen is, 14 weeks before the race, this is early March before you have been to a Grand Prix yet but after winter testing, you need to choose your allocation for the Canadian Grand Prix.
"We biased away from the HyperSoft believing it would be insufficiently robust to produce good laps in the race. The HyperSoft in Monaco and in Canada did struggle but it was better then we were expecting it to be back in early March, more robust of a tyre, usable as you saw in Red Bull who were able to do the first stint of the race on it, and ultimately a strong tyre in qualifying.
"The more experience we had on that, it would've improved our situation even if it was just a few milliseconds. The way our car works on HyperSofts, Monaco was an entirely different problem to Montreal.
"In fact, in Montreal I would argue we had no issues on those tyres, we extracted everything we needed to from qualifying, Valtteri was in P2 and that's where the car was performance wise. Lewis had a number of other small balance issues, but they are not related to whether it was a HyperSoft or UltraSoft. They are more on chassis balance.
"If we go back to Monaco, yes there were the issues in the race but we understand a number of those now and they wouldn't have applied to Montreal. What's interesting for us now, more importantly, is we are going to have these tyres, the HyperSoft, later on in the season.
"If I had to guess, Singapore and towards the end of the year Abu Dhabi are races where I expect that tyre will come back up again.
"We have got a few opportunities again in the future to make sure we understand how it performs, how our car performs on it and extract the maximum performance we can from it. I am very confident we are going to be able to do that."
Steven Evans commented on Facebook asking:
- What are the official rules for the chequered flag being waved early?
"There is a very specific sporting regulation that governs this, it's 43.2. What it states is that should the race, for whatever reason, be chequered flagged before it should be either due to the number of laps or time, they'll take the last time the leader crossed the line before the flag was shown.
"So, in this circumstance, that's lap 68 which is where they counted it back to. And that's why as the results stand, you will see it is only a 68-lap race that has been counted."