Mercedes’ ‘other decisions’ questioned after ‘disastrous’ Sprint Qualy

Mercedes’ ‘other decisions’ questioned after ‘disastrous’ Sprint Qualy

After Lewis Hamilton’s “pretty disastrous” sprint qualifying, Bernie Collins has questioned whether Mercedes made a mistake by not letting him use soft tyres in practice.

Hamilton and his teammate George Russell showed good pace during the only training session for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday. During the first 50 minutes they battled Max Verstappen for first place.

Lewis Hamilton could not compete for pole in the Sprint Qualy

But when the drivers switched to soft tires for the last 10 minutes, Verstappen got going, Russell got stuck in a traffic jam and Hamilton went against the majority by sticking to the hard tyres.

That decision could cost him dearly later in the day, just before Sprint Qualifying.

Hamilton finished SQ3 in sixth place, 0.584 seconds slower than polesitter Verstappen, in what was the Briton’s first ever run of the weekend on the soft Pirellis.

Collins, a former Aston Martin strategist, Air F1 analyst, thinks Mercedes could “potentially” regret this.

“But,” she continued, “they made some different decisions than the rest, if I may say so.

“Lewis wasn’t running on the soft. The only driver not on the soft in FP1. He was running hard. So when he went into Sprint Qualy he had to make a move to the medium and then a move to the soft.

“You can say these are the best drivers in the world, so you can take that step, but no one else felt like he could.

“When they go back and look at it, was it the right decision or the wrong decision? We never get the right answer.”

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Hamilton, who was two-tenths behind Russell in SQ3, called it a “disastrous” session.

“I wasn’t in it at all, the whole session was quite disastrous from our point of view,” Hamilton said. “Practice was good, the car felt good, I don’t think we had the speed to be on pole, but very bad laps.”

Having done all his runs on the hard tyres in FP1 and executed the W15 set-up perfectly on the whitewall Pirellis, Collins wondered “how much” that would “translate” when it came to the softer compounds.

“(Hamilton) didn’t get the first run on a medium. On the second run your outlap is no longer the same because it is actually a used tire. SQ2, a lot goes wrong. It’s escalating,” Collins added.

“He was the first car on track in SQ3. That was the best chance to do the outlap largely as he wanted. They will look at this weekend how they could have improved.

“Their set-up for the start of FP1 was really good, but on a hard tyre we don’t know to what extent that has an effect.”

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