Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2019

Hamilton “didn’t make a mistake” at end of VSC period

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton wasn’t to blame for the time he lost at the end of the Virtual Safety Car period in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton took responsibility for the time he lost to race-leading team mate Valtteri Bottas when the VSC period ended on lap 41 of Sunday’s race. “I lost two-and-a-half seconds, or whatever it is, under the VSC,” he said following Sunday’s race. “That was my fault and something I’ll work on.”

However Mercedes motorsport strategy director James Vowles explained Hamilton’s time loss was partly due to the timing of the VSC period and his need to make engine settings changes at the time.

“We asked Lewis to do a number of switch changes, which is normal, to put the car into a more ‘performant’ mode,” said Vowles. “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 was in turn seven when the VSC ended, while Bottas was at the exit of turn eight.

“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,” Vowles added. “The luck of the draw as to where you are under the VSC, unfortunately, will always be the same way.”

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Mercedes team radio messages from the end of the VSC period

To Hamilton:VSC ending,. VSC ending. Go strat more five and then strat seven when you’re comfortable. So VSC ending
Hamilton:Feels like I lost two seconds on this damn delta.
To Hamilton:Copy Lewis. You’ve got Vettel 2.7 seconds behind.
To Hamilton:And go to strat seven when you’re comfortable.
To Bottas:Safety Car ending… Sorry, clear in sector six.
To Bottas:Safety Car ending, strat mode five, reset your brake balance.

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Keith Collantine
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16 comments on “Hamilton “didn’t make a mistake” at end of VSC period”

  1. Very interesting, excellent information.

    Have slow zones ever been considered for F1?

    1. @megatron Yes these post race debriefs on the Mercedes AMG Youtube channel are very informative. They go through all strategic issues during every race.

      Not sure why the Youtube link isn’t given in the article really, because it’s just a transcription of part of that debrief.

  2. The steering wheel display outlooks of both of them already are more or less the same, in terms, of the size of the gear number, and how the numbers around it are constructed. I’m now looking forward to seeing how different if any Hamilton’s dash outlook is going to be starting from the next race weekend compared to how it usually has been ever since 2014. I doubt it’s really going to look any different in the end.

    1. They are gonna highlight the deltatime more when switching settings?
      The article is kinda straight forward with what they wanna do. I doubt it will make a difference though, Hamilton is very honest here and in truth the only thing that can improve this is him doing the multitasking better.

  3. So that means that when he makes a switch change, it shows up completely on the screen with no information for the delta time? Not 100% clear here. If so, seems like an interesting design flaw, you’d have thought Mercedes will have thought of that.

    1. Didnt think of that, you’re into something.
      Imagine race control had decided to end vsc at start of the straight, max might have won the race.

    2. Anon A. Mouse
      2nd May 2019, 23:31

      I didn’t pay too much attention during the VSC, but normally when Mercedes tells them to make a change to a setting (HPP 4 Position 7, for example), the screen changes from the normal data view to only showing the setting being changed and it’s value. It holds that view for maybe 300-500ms after the change is complete, then reverts back to the normal data view. So if Hamilton got a stream of instructions (HPP 4 Position 7, Strat 1, BBal Minus 2), he conceivably could have not seen the delta for multiple seconds across multiple sectors. On top of that, his engineer was repeatedly telling him to keep the delta positive, so he could have been slowing down more than normal.

  4. DarkSchendeir
    1st May 2019, 21:27

    Hamilton is like Chuck Norris.
    It’s not Hamilton who makes mystakes.
    It’s mystakes who put a knee in front of Hamilton.
    Hamilton walks on water.
    Hamilton heals the tyres.
    Err.. well, almost, for the last one.

  5. I would have thought that you gain more if the VSC ends while you are in the middle of a corner instead of when you are in the middle of a straight, as you lose less relative to normal speeds in a corner, whereas in a straight, you are basically having to go over 100kph down on what you normally would do. Similar to why you gain time (relative) when you make a pitstop during a VSC.

    1. Exactly what I thought!

    2. The issue is that if your car is straight then you can flaw the throttle and accelerate straight away. If you are in a corner (Especially a slow one) then you have to wait until you are out of the corner before you can accelerate.

      1. But isn’t that what you would do anyways? Because even without a VSC, it’s not like drivers start accelerating at the entry phase of the corner. Moreover, you can carry full speed down the straight, which you can’t when you only are able to go full speed midway through a straight.

        1. That is not quite how it works…

          The cars are not going around the corners as fast as at race pace and are actually probably being pretty careful given the lack of tyre temps.

          In this case Bottas accelerated as soon as the green flag appeared and so was already building up a gap before Hamiton was out of the corner. The fact that the car on cooler tyres can not suddenly accelerate out of the corner like it normally would is in contrast to the fact that the car on the straight can accelerate very quickly.

          1. Bottas would initially pull-away, but Hamilton would reel him in quickly as he would be going through the straight at full-speed, whereas Bottas wouldn’t. For example, Bottas might have crossed the start/finish straight going at 290kph as he only started accelerating fully 1km before, whereas Hamilton will probably be going through there at 330kph as he has been accelerating for 2km. So Bottas would open a gap up initially, but that would only be temporary, and in the end, he would lose out.

  6. Electroball76
    2nd May 2019, 13:42

    Perhaps the BOT was just the better man that day. Ain’t no shame in that, Valtteri’s awesome.

  7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd May 2019, 22:23

    I’m not a fan of the vsc. It seems to create issues.

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