Mercedes have explained that Lewis Hamilton was not to blame for a costly loss of tie under Virtual Safety Car conditions at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which cost the world champion ground in his late-race pursuit of team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the victory.
Hamilton lost almost two seconds at the VSC restart, with Bottas going on to secure victory by just 1.5 seconds thanks to a late tow from the Williams of George Russell.
Mercedes strategy chief James Vowles explained how Hamilton had lost out at the VSC restart, exonerating the driver of any blame.
“We asked Lewis to do a number of switch changes, which is normal, to put the car into a more ‘performant’ mode,” Vowles said in Mercedes’ post-Baku debrief.
“But with every change, he lost sight of what [the] delta time was.
“The other factor that was contributing here was that if you are in a straight line – for example, turn 16, long straight – and the VSC ends, all you have to do is get on the throttle and go straight.
“But Lewis wasn’t, he was in a braking zone for a VSC, one of the most difficult situations because it’s very difficult to modulate where you are on the delta time and get ready for the VSC restart.
“A combination of all of that put together means that Lewis didn’t make a mistake. It’s where he was on track and a number of switch changes that just masked where he was in exact delta time and he lost around two seconds.”
Hamilton said after the race that he would explore ways of improving the system, something that Vowles confirmed would come from the team.
“We, from our side, can certainly do more work to make that better in terms of a dash display [in] Barcelona, and we will do,” he said.
“The luck of the draw as to where you are under the VSC, unfortunately, will always be the same way.”