“I think it would have been more difficult”– Mercedes explain why they didn’t select medium tyres to catch Max Verstappen at COTA

Tanish Chachra
|Published 30/10/2021

Mercedes explains why they avoided the option of medium tyres to catch Max Verstappen, as Mercedes lost against Red Bull by a fine margin.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was viciously hunting Max Verstappen and finished behind them only by a fine margin. The Silver Arrows even claim that if the race were a little longer, they would have won.

Whilst Red Bull appeared fast, and Lewis Hamilton also decided to change the tyres after Verstappen, many argued why not medium tyres then?

But Mercedes’ James Vowels explains that it would have been a catastrophic decision. According to them, including Mercedes, everyone was struggling with medium compounds at COTA.

“What was very clear is that the Medium was a very poor tyre for us. On that first stint of the race, we were quite slow. I would say probably in the region of over half a second off what we could do on the Hard. And that became an easy decision for us.”

“I think it would have been more difficult with other cars, but given our situation, and given that we know that we were poor in stint one of the race, it wasn’t an option to fit the Medium again.”

“The degradation would have been too high and Lewis, whilst [he] would have still caught Verstappen, wouldn’t have had the tyre to even have a go at the end.”

Mercedes couldn’t have applied a one-stop plan

The one pitstop strategy has been an effective tool in the previous years at COTA. However, Vowels claims that it wasn’t viable in 2021 due to the abrasiveness of the track surface and relative tyre life,

“Not on the tyre lives that we had this year, no,” he said when asked about the strategy option. There are a few concepts that allow you to see that hopefully.”

“If we go back to 2019, a year where it wasn’t as warm, where we didn’t have as much degradation on the tyres, Lewis just about did a one-stop race with a car that was fast.”

“If you remember, [in] the dying stages of the race, he had run out of tyres and [was] struggling relative to Verstappen behind, who was going to overtake him.”

“Now, that was a limit one-stop. This year, the track was warmer, the track has evolved, it’s more aggressive on the tyres, there was a lot more degradation, so even just taking those into account you can see how a two would be the fastest strategy and a one just not even possible.”

“To put it more into context, a three would have been a much better strategy than a one-stop here in Austin this year, given what we had on tyre degradation. Long story short, no, a one-stop wasn’t on the cards, wasn’t possible.”

Also read: Mercedes maps a plan to defeat Red Bull in Mexico after facing heavy blow in Austin

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About the author
Tanish Chachra

Tanish Chachra

Tanish Chachra is the Motorsport editor at The SportsRush. He saw his first race when F1 visited India in 2011, and since then, his romance with the sport has been seasonal until he took up this role in 2020. Reigniting F1's coverage on this site, Tanish has fallen in love with the sport all over again. He loves Kimi Raikkonen and sees a future world champion in Oscar Piastri. Away from us, he loves to snuggle inside his books.

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