Looking to avoid another clash between its two drivers, the Mercedes Formula 1 team is dedicated to performing an exhaustive evaluation of its communication practices in time for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has recognised the need to reevaluate the way the team communicate with their drivers in the wake of the accident between their drivers during the qualifying session at the Barcelona circuit. Lewis Hamilton slowed down at Turn 10 during the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying so Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari could pass him after finishing a quick lap. In order to benefit from the Ferrari’s slipstream, Hamilton planned to follow it closely while striving for the straight section’s highest speed.
At the same time, George Russell attempted to make a move of his own and take advantage of Sainz’s Ferrari’s slipstream too. This led to Russell accelerating to keep up with the Ferrari. Unfortunately, Hamilton was coming from behind at full speed. Russell, who had been stranded behind the Ferrari as they approached the straight, suddenly swerved to the left to pass the Ferrari, not realising that Hamilton was also trying to pass. The two vehicles collided as they came side by side, breaking Hamilton’s front wing in the process. Despite the damage to Hamilton’s front wing, the seven time world champion was still able to compete in Q3, but Russell was eliminated.
Mercedes Accept Responsibility
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, said after qualifying that the needless collision made the team appear “silly” and attributed it to “miscommunications” between the pit wall and the drivers. Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin said in the team’s post-race debrief video that Mercedes is looking into the situation.
“Put simply, the drivers were trying to find a car finishing a lap in order to get a slingshot starting the lap themselves so that it would give them more straight line speed; you can find around a tenth, maybe a little bit more on the straight. That car that was finishing peels in and they can then conduct the rest of their lap in clear air. Now, the issue, put very simply, was that George and Lewis both tried to pick up Sainz as that slingshot. Lewis got on to the back of him around Turn 10, as he then came around to start the lap, George was waiting because he knew that Sainz was coming, not realising that Lewis was just behind. we will sit down and we will look at how we need to change our communication to make sure that we don’t confuse the drivers by not giving them the whole picture.”Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director
Hamilton and Russell Remain Cordial
After the event, neither driver bore any ill will for the other, instead placing the blame on the team’s poor procedures. In post qualifying interviews, Lewis Hamilton stated that, “it was just a miscommunication thing.” Likewise, Russell placed no blame at his senior teammates feet, concluding that, “fortunately, nothing bad happened.”
When it was all said and done, it was a fantastic weekend for both drivers. Both Lewis and George finished the Spanish Grand Prix on the podium. Having finally seen improvements in a car that Hamilton has been very negative about this season, the pair will look to put the Mercedes on the front row at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend.
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