Belgium GP Sprint team notes - Mercedes


Lewis Hamilton finished seventh and George Russell eighth in the F1 Sprint at the Belgian Grand Prix. Rain showers came and went throughout the day, leading to delays to both the start of the Sprint Shootout and the Sprint itself.

Traffic management at the end of SQ3 caused both drivers to have less than ideal final push laps, leaving them P7 and P10 on the grid.

After running initially got underway behind the safety car in the Sprint, both cars boxed to switch from full wets to intermediates. Lewis and Sergio Perez then made contact as they battled for P4, with Lewis given a five-second time penalty that would ultimately relegate him to P7.

George meanwhile recovered from dropping to P12 after his stop to bounce back to P8 and claim the final point. Attention now turns to Sunday's Grand Prix where Lewis starts P3 and George P8.

Lewis Hamilton: The conditions were very tricky out there and we're all trying our best. I think the contact with Perez was a racing incident. He went wide and was slow through turn 14 and I got a great exit - I was more than half-a-car alongside him and we ended up just coming together. Naturally it wasn't intentional, but I got a penalty for it. Ultimately, it doesn't make a huge difference. The difference between fourth and seventh in a Sprint where you don't get a lot of points means it's not punishing.

The positives are that our pace has been good. Today in the Sprint Shootout, we would have been fighting for the front-row without the issues on our final lap. We would have been right up there battling with Max, but it wasn't meant to be. We now start third tomorrow and I hope I'll be able to fight with the Ferraris and Perez.

George Russell: I think P8 was the maximum we could achieve from a shortened Sprint today. The car was really quick; I think we were probably the second fastest out there behind Max. Unfortunately after a bad qualifying session this is all you can really get. It also wasn't easy out there in those conditions. It was my decision to pit one lap after the safety car had come in and that was perhaps not the correct one. We came out P12 after the pit stop and got back to P8. To recover those positions in such a short race is positive. With two more laps, we could have possibly got up to P5, but it is what it is, and I'm relatively satisfied.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO: The car was good today. I would rather have a quick car that is doing good things and have a less optimal position in the Sprint, than benefitting from other's misfortunes and being lucky. Given everything that happened today that we didn't optimise, I'm OK with how our race played out.

Both Lewis and George had great pace; George overtook several cars and was closing on Norris who was much further ahead, so he had a good recovery. The contact between Lewis and Perez I saw as a racing incident more than penalty worthy. They were side-by-side and we want to see people racing. Nevertheless, that was the decision, and we now move on to the Grand Prix tomorrow. If we take similar pace into the race, we will be in a good position to fight for a decent result.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director: Both drivers drove a good race today. We'd have liked a few more laps to attack as the car was working well. Lewis' penalty is frustrating, but the big points are tomorrow and if the car has the pace it had today, we should be on for a strong result.

George did a really good job to get into the points. It wasn't easy to overtake as the DRS was disabled but he was making steady progress through the field and had good pace. We still don't have any proper dry running so it's hard to know where everyone will be on pace; we can expect Max to be difficult to beat even with his penalty, but everything else is up for grabs.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa here.

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Published: 29/07/2023
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