Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin talks through some of your questions about the Monaco Grand Prix
Juan Salas (@juancho_pablo_s) asked on Instagram:
- Why did Hamilton pit way earlier than the others even though the undercut didn't work?
Andrew Shovlin: "The reason we stopped Lewis early was we were already seeing signs of that degradation on the HyperSofts with Valtteri.
"You could see that when it came in, it was actually pretty extreme and you lost a lot of lap time very quickly. That's because when you lose the front grip, the front slides more and it becomes a bit of a vicious circle.
"So, with Lewis, there were a few factors. We knew we were going to lose a bit of time quite quickly. The other one was if we came in, went onto a faster tyre and could push, we could actually pull the leaders in.
"In that sense, what we are trying to do is when we can't do a long stint on the Hyper, we are trying to prevent them from doing a long stint on the Hyper.
"If we had stayed out with Lewis, we would've just been losing race time. So, at that point, it was really a protective strategy rather than an aggressive one, as you might do with an undercut."
Ben Belcher (@BenBelcher_) sent this query on Twitter:
- Had Lewis and/or Valtteri stayed out until after Ricciardo's power unit issue, would the overcut have been possible?
AS: "Unfortunately we just weren't fast enough to overcut.
"We'd already gone into the graining phase on the Hyper, we'd seen that both Vettel and Ricciardo were going quite a lot faster than us, so if we'd stayed out we'd have just lost race time.
"There wasn't anything we could've done by going long."
David Izquierdo (@davidizki) got in touch on Twitter asking:
- Did you think about bringing Valtteri in around lap 50 for a fresh set of HyperSofts, or was it never an option?
AS: "We did talk about what we could do with Valtteri around that point of the race, lap 50. The problem is, if we'd just come in for HyerSofts, you lose a lot of race time.
"So, you have to then use the fresh rubber to try and make up that race time. Obviously, if you were to do that on a Safety Car, it's a different matter because the field bunches up.
"But, the other thing is Valtteri only had one SuperSoft, the SuperSoft looked like the best tyre and that was the tyre fitted to his car.
"So, from his point of view, if we'd had another set of those, we might've tried something. But, it wasn't going to make any difference to the race unless there was a Safety Car.
"In that situation, we are better off waiting for it to happen."
Kayleigh Johns asked on Facebook:
- Lewis was pretty close to back of Vettel a few times but then dropped quite far back, was this a tyre issue or Lewis not pushing?
AS: "Yes, Lewis did push up close to Sebastian on a few occasions. He was quite mindful that he had to get his tyre set to the end of the race.
"You heard him say to the team 'are you sure these are going to last, it doesn't feel like they are going to go that far'.
"For sure, it was a long stint and you are taking tyres quite close to the limit. The other thing is, at Monaco it is so difficult to pass.
"If you have a massive tyre offset, if someone is on completely worn out rubber and you are on fresh rubber, you might get through.
"But, it's very, very difficult and in reality, if Lewis had sat close behind Sebastian, he'd have suffered more degradation, more wear and I don't think he'd have ever made a pass stick."
Peter Kiss (@lightpeti) tweeted us asking:
- Was Lewis in real danger with the tyres, with the crew preparing for a pit stop during VSC?
AS: "The first part of that, was Lewis in danger with the tyres, not really, no. He managed the rubber quite well to the end of the race.
"They weren't in the optimum condition so the lap times wouldn't have been as good as a fresh set, but we were in no real danger of running out of rubber. So, that side was OK. You saw we got the pit crew out when the VSC came.
"We were discussing what to do at that point with either car. But, how you make those decisions depends a lot on what happens in front of you and behind you.
"You may inherit places if other people stop, or get a free stop if people box out of the way. That's why we bring the crew out: we are still having the discussion and it means we can react quickly.
"But, in the end we decided to stay put as did the rest of the cars around us."
Michael Bridges (@michael_bridges1) commented on Instagram:
- Why didn't you choose to pit Lewis on the SuperSoft like you did to Valtteri, it looked like it had a lot more pace and was a better race tyre?
AS: "We had tried that tyre with Lewis on Thursday and he had found it a little difficult to generate the grip.
"It's a harder tyre, needs a bit more work to warm it up. The other thing was we expected the race leaders to go onto the UltraSofts, so it made sense to have Lewis there on the same tyre.
"If we were running the race again, we would have probably gone for the SuperSoft with Leiws because it was durable and it was quick.
"We saw that with Valtteri where he was actually having quite an easy time on that tyre to the end of the race."
Janez Heimer queried on Facebook:
- Would it have been a two-stop race for the top drivers if Daniel had no problems with his power unit, which probably significantly slowed the pace of the first five (or at least three) down and made it easier on tyres?
AS: "In reality, Monaco is almost always a one-stop race. The pace was slowed down a bit by Ricciardo, that did make it a little bit easier for people to survive on the tyres.
"But, the reality is, if he'd have made a stop, you could guarantee Sebastian was not going to stop again. Because, he has then inherited the lead and is going to stay there.
"The thing with Monaco is you can drive more or less as slow as you like. There are areas of the track where you can really preserve the tyres and even if someone's behind you, there is no way they are going to get past.
"That's why we were always going to end up with a one-stop strategy. You get some people trying it [a two-stop], but it takes so much time to make those positions back, that as soon as you're in the lead the best thing is just to try and go to the finish."
Paul Ofulue (@paul_mudi) sent us this question on Instagram:
- Why were the tyres on the Mercedes graining more than its rivals?
AS: "That's a good question and that is what we have been doing a fair bit of work on this week.
"We saw other people up and down the field in a similar situation, but crucially for us, the Red Bull looked stronger and the Ferrari looked stronger.
"We have got some pretty good ideas of what went wrong and we're going to be doing a bit more work to fully understand that.
"Because, we do need to get on top of that for Montreal. We have got the same tyres, you could have similar problems and we need to make sure we are not exposed.
"Because, in Montreal, if you lose pace and are suffering with degradation, people will pass you very easily."
Manas Khandekar (@44_lewis) asked on Instagram:
- What was the reason for Mercedes being behind at Monaco... the tyre adaption, grip or the downforce?
AS: "This is another thing we have been working on this week, trying to understand exactly where the deficits are.
"In qualifying, we were a bit behind and to be honest, we went to Monaco not expecting to match the Red Bull. They always look good at the very high-downforce circuits, circuits with slow-speed corners.
"Monaco is a race where we have not dominated for a long time. The reality is it will be a combination of many, many things. In qualifying I think we were getting the tyres to work quite well. It was just a question of grip and also downforce, keeping them cool in that final sector.
"We were good in sector one but it was quite difficult to put the whole lap together. So, I think there we are just looking for small differences. Then, in the race, understanding this graining on the Hyper is another matter. That won't be just down to the car performance.
"We need to look at what we were doing with the car, how we were using it and how we were setting it up. We are doing some work now to understand all of those issues.
"Invariably, as is often the case when you suffer a performance problem, it isn't just one thing. It is a combination of a lot of factors."