“Each one has a slight advantage over the other”- Mercedes reveal the decision they made that led to them winning the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes had a thumping win over Red Bull in the opening race of the season despite Red Bull looking stronger for most of the race. Credits to Lewis Hamilton’s incredible drive and an error made by Max Verstappen in anticipation.
However, another reason that kept Mercedes in contention to win the race, when they were several seconds behind Red Bull, and that is exceptional tyre management, as revealed by Andrew Shovlin.
“It’s not like one of them is a no-brainer, the other one a completely moronic choice. Each one has a slight advantage over the other in certain circumstances. So, the medium tyre, all things being equal, will be slightly faster over a certain number of laps, but it will die sooner,” he said.
“The hard tyre is just a whisker slower, but it will be fairly bulletproof for a large number of laps. So, those two different characteristics give you different options.
“We judged, and you have to remember we were only at this track a few months ago in 2020, that the pace difference between the hard and the medium was going to be sufficiently small that we valued the increased life a little higher than we valued that shade of extra pace that the medium tyre gave you.
“And we intended to use that extra life to put ourselves in a position where we could be brave at the point where we did our stops.”
We know Bahrain
Shovlin confidently said that they know Bahrain well, as the memories of 2020 are still fresh, as the last race over there happened a few months ago only.
“We know in Bahrain it is one of the tracks that have the most powerful undercuts. You need only to get within about two seconds of the car ahead, and if you stop one lap sooner, you can jump past using an undercut.
“Now, if you know that what you have got tucked up in the garage is a nice set of unused hard tyres and you know that set can go deep, deep into the race, then it gives you the confidence to make that undercut move, to dive in the pits and stop really quite early in the race, and to use that undercut to jump past hopefully.
“If you are sitting on a medium tyre with someone hard up behind you and you are worried that they are going to undercut you, but all you know is you’ve got mediums in the garage,” he added.
“Then you are nervous about diving in the pits too early in the race because you know that your tyres, maybe, are going to struggle if they have to run too long a stint.
“So, we placed the value on the stint length, and it was that we then used in the race, admittedly in quite an extreme way, to make sure that we used the length of the stint to our advantage.
“It was that that allowed us first to undercut and then protect against an undercut having seized the lead with that very, very aggressive early stop and long final stint that Lewis did to hold on for the win.
“So, it is a matter of taste, a matter of choice, but we chose it for those reasons, and then we exploited that opportunity to sneak a win in a very, very closely fought race.”