2019 Singapore Grand Prix F1 Debrief

2019 Singapore Grand Prix F1 Debrief


Hi, I’m Andrew Shovlin,
I’m Trackside Engineering Director,
and I’m here to answer your questions
from the Singapore Grand Prix.
Lack of pace in Qualifying, well that’s
quite a difficult one because the balance
was pretty good. Now, we were clearly struggling
to get the cars in the right place on track to
allow them to do the outlap they wanted.
Both Lewis and Valtteri were wanting to go
quicker than a lot of the other cars and it’s
a difficult circuit, if you are on an outlap
and you are stuck behind someone who
wants to go slow you can’t really get by.
If you look though at the balance of the car.
Well, the balance of the car wasn’t in a bad
region, but you saw with Valtteri he was in
traffic on those crucial laps and it really cost
him a lot of time and even Lewis wasn’t able
to go as fast as he wanted. So, we don’t think
it’s really the case of the set-up, it’s all about
those tyres and getting them to work and
Singapore is one of the trickiest tracks for that.
The reason we didn’t go for the undercut was two-fold.
One, there were a number of cars from the
midfield that were still out, and they would’ve
become traffic for Lewis on fresh tyres.
So, he would’ve had a few laps in clear air,
two maybe three at most, but then he would’ve
hit that traffic and we weren’t sure we
would be able to get through. So, it wasn’t
like he had a clear track to run onto. The other
question was all about Leclerc and his tyres.
He had been driving very, very slowly and we
thought that he’d still have a lot of life in
those tyres. Now, as it happened, they fell apart
very quickly almost as soon as he started pushing
and if we’d known that, that would’ve
obviously biased us to go to the early stop.
As I said in the last question, we didn’t go
for the undercut because of that risk of traffic.
But once you don’t take that, on lap 19 Vettel
had taken it, the window has then closed
for Lewis, he would’ve fallen behind Vettel,
so we are into going long. The reason we are
going long is two-fold. One is that there is a
good chance of a Safety Car in Singapore and
if there had been one, we would have benefited
from that with a much shorter stop and the
other one is we weren’t sure how easy it would be
to take that Hard tyre those 40 plus laps to the
end of the race. We were thinking if we could offset
with Lewis, get him on good tyres at the end
of the race, there would also be opportunity to
overtake. Now with hindsight, it was clearly the wrong
decision but those are the reasons that we decided
once you haven’t gone short, you may as well go
as long as you can, and we ended up running the
Soft tyres down to zero trying to stretch
that as far as we could.
Regarding the choice of tyres at Lewis’s stop,
well we went for the Hard as you saw
almost everyone did. Now, the Hard tyre
is actually two positions harder than the
Medium tyre. There used to be a tyre called
the SuperSoft that would sit between them.
So, it is quite a different rubber. It’s got less
grip but it is much more resilient and when
you are trying to do the sort of stint lengths
we were looking at in Singapore, really you
have got to go for that Hard tyre to
do the 40 plus laps and that’s why you saw
almost everyone from that stage of the
race taking that Hard tyre.
Coming up to those first stops, we saw
Vettel and Verstappen stop on 19, but for
our race or for Valtteri’s race, Albon stopping on 20
was quite crucial because he was going to move into
a position where he could undercut Valtteri.
Now, normally we would give the lead car the choice
of stop lap and that would’ve been Lewis
in this instance.
Because we gave it to Valtteri,
it meant Valtteri moved into
a position where he would undercut Lewis.
The team was
obviously wanting to go as far as we could
with Lewis to either
benefit from a Safety Car or to have the best tyres
at the end of the race. And that was why we asked
Valtteri to effectively neutralise the situation,
to slow down, to allow us to go as long as we
could with Lewis and retaining the positions
as they were before the stop.
We were fairly certain that the race without
Safety Cars was going to end up being a one-stop.
A one-stop that would require some management.
But, we’ve always prepared a plan for a
two-stop,
because you never know if the tyres start to drop
off that might be possible and whoever is in fifth
place or sixth place can probably take that stop
without really losing any position or certainly
only losing one position. So, it is something that
we planned for but as it happened, the race
was more or less what we expected it was just
those Safety Cars at the end that kept
bunching the field up that meant it was
impossible to convert to a two-stop.
The truth is we analyse every race, it’s
just that after this one there are a few questions
that we need answers to ahead of Sochi.
Now we are here in the UK just for one day,
we have got a number of meetings, but we
are focusing on Qualifying performance,
that’s clearly one area that we weren’t
strong enough understanding how to get the
tyres in the right window. And that’s going
to
use people who are from the tyre group, people
from the performance group, we’ll use the race
engineers in there and we’re just looking
at how
we can get all the performance out of the
package
in Sochi in a few days’ time. We’re also
looking
at the strategy side as well, reviewing the
decisions we made, what we knew and
crucially making sure that we can get better
data into it for Sochi, so we know exactly
what the tyres are capable of and we are
not afraid of taking them too far. So, those are
the areas that are going to be focused on
today.
But, genuinely, a bad and a good race are
not that different, it’s just that with
a bad race
there is generally more to learn actually, more
areas that you can look for improvements
to be better in the future.
Thank you very much for your questions,
we will be back next week after the
Russian Grand Prix to answer some more.

One Reply to “2019 Singapore Grand Prix F1 Debrief”

  1. Loved the race from Marina Bay. Great spectacle as always in Singapore. Unfortunate the result wasn't more favourable for Mercedes. Will be watching Sochi with interest on Sunday. Good luck to the team.

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