The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team scored six points in Saturday’s Sprint in Spielberg, with solid P4 and P8 finishes but a pace delta to the fastest two teams.
Thanks to an herculean effort from the team, both cars were able to take part in FP2, which took place just six working hours after Qualifying. This included building a new car for Lewis around the spare chassis.
George made a strong start from P4 and then held position, containing Perez’s pace in the closing laps.
Lewis had contact with Gasly at Turn One, then more on the run to Turn Three, leaving him P11 at the end of the first lap. From this point, he suffered high front left brake temperatures, possibly owing to damage.
From this point, he was able to pass Albon, Bottas and Schumacher to secure a P8 finish – putting him one place higher on the grid tomorrow, than he started today.
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First, thank you to everyone in the garage to get the car ready today. It was a huge team effort, so it was good to get points on the board. As for the performance, the gap was more than we were expecting. We were 13 seconds behind after 23 laps, so that’s nearly half a second per lap. We need to work overnight to understand why we dropped off the pace. Small things can make a difference – the tyres weren’t easy to manage, and different approaches to downforce levels will play a part tomorrow. But we are in no doubt that we’ve got work to do.
I’m grateful I managed to survive out there today. The team did such a great job to get the car back together last night and this morning. A bit thankyou to them and I’m glad I brought it back mostly in one piece. I didn’t have a good start, then Pierre moved across on me at Turn One. I don’t understand why drivers do that when there’s so much space to the right, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Then the same happened in Turn Three with a Williams and Red Bull. I got some sort of damage, but at least could continue. After that, I was just trying to catch up. We are slower on the straights, so I had to wait until I was out of the DRS train to overtake the cars in front. That’s why it took a few laps to get ahead of Mick. Hopefully we can race stronger tomorrow – fingers crossed!
After such an incredible effort from the mechanics to get the cars built and able to race, that was a bit of a disappointing performance in speed terms. We failed to show our usual improvement in race pace versus single lap performance, like at other events this year. George did a strong job, but the car was lacking the pace to hold on with the train in front. For Lewis, he had contact on lap one which cost him ground. Then it was a good battle with Mick, who was fighting hard for position. Lewis eventually came out on top, so he starts the race one place higher than he qualified. Now we need to learn the lessons and improve our pace in the grand prix tomorrow.
Everyone in the garage did amazing work to get the cars out in time for the second practice session. We had a huge amount to do, including a chassis swap with Lewis. But it was great to see how well the team worked under pressure. The sprint race by contrast was rather underwhelming. Lewis was lucky not to be taken out when he got squeezed by Gasly in the run to Turn One, so in some ways a relief to survive that. We’ll check the car for damage when we get it back but it was a big hit. George didn’t quite have the speed to chase the Ferraris and Verstappen, so we were always going to end up fourth but at least we’ve made it onto the second row for tomorrow. We’re clearly missing a bit of pace and will study the data and look at what we can do in terms of fine tuning but it’s hard to find much now we’re in parc ferme.