Video: Mercedes reveals true cause of Melbourne error

28/03/2018
NEWS STORY

Mercedes has revealed that a bug in its software caused the team to lose out to Ferrari in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

While it was initially thought that the team's failure to put Lewis Hamilton back ahead of Sebastian Vettel when the German pitted under the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was down to a problem with its race strategy software, it has now been revealed that in fact the problem was due to an offline tool the team uses to calculate delta times between those cars pitting and those remaining on track.

"The issue isn't really with the race strategy software that we use," explains Andrew Shovlin, the German team's trackside engineering director, in the latest edition of its Pure Pitwall series.

"It was an offline tool that we create these delta lap times with, and we found a bug in the tool that meant that it gave us the wrong number.

"The number that we were calculating was around fifteen seconds," he reveals, "and in reality the number was slightly short of thirteen seconds, so that was what created our delta. That is why we thought we were safe. We thought we had a bit of margin and then you saw the result. We dropped out, we were in second place and it is very difficult to overtake and we couldn't get through."

Due to the consequences of the failure, Mercedes will devote the same time and resources to fixing the issue as it would with a reliability issue on the car.

"It is really about understanding everything that went wrong, gathering all the data, and invariably it is never just one thing," he said. "So there are elements that we can do better with calculating that, but we have also looked at it for the future. We are going to make sure we have more margin because we want to be able to cover for Vettel doing an amazingly good in-lap to the pits, or having an incredibly fast stop. With any of these things, we look at what went wrong, work out how to solve it and then put the processes in place to make sure we don't have a repeat.

"It is never quite an exact science because you don't know how fast a car is going to be able to come through that pit entry," concludes the Briton, referring to the fact one of the main factors on Sunday was the fact that while those cars on track were speed limited under VSC rules, Vettel, and the other drivers that pitted at that time, were able to speed up from the safety car line until reaching the pit lane speed limit.

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Published: 28/03/2018
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