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Race analysis GP Australia 2018: software cheats Hamilton

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Race analysis GP Australia 2018
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What went wrong at Mercedes?

M ercedes lost a race in Australia that you shouldn't actually lose. Ironically, the otherwise so reliably working strategy department failed. The disaster began in the 25th round. Romain Grosjean parked his HaasF1 with a loose left front wheel at turn two. One lap later, the race management activated the virtual safety car. That played Sebastian Vettel the decisive trump card. The Heppenheimer was in the last section of the route directly in front of the pit entrance. Ferrari reacted with lightning speed, fitted the SF71H with fresh soft tires and brought Vettel back on the track before Hamilton.

In Melbourne, a normal pit stop costs around 22.5 seconds. The VSC phase saved Vettel a good ten seconds. Because it was conveniently placed on the track and there was no speed limit between the first and second safety car lines. This section begins shortly before the pit entrance and ends shortly after the pit exit. Hamilton, on the other hand, was in the fast eleven and twelve corners and had to brake hard. Then he strolled on at 120 percent of the racing pace.

Vettel showed killer instinct and the Ferrari mechanics worked with nimble fingers. The stay in the pit lane took less than 12 seconds. Nevertheless, Mercedes should not have given up the victory. Faulty software led the strategists on the wrong track. 'Our strategy program calculated that we could be a maximum of 15 seconds behind,' explained Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “So we had a buffer of three to four seconds. We have been using this software for five years. Either there was a bug or we fed the program the wrong data. ”If the software had specified the correct distance, Hamilton could easily have entered the time window. 'I only drove as fast as my boys told me to,' said the runner-up. “There was no reason to go faster. According to our calculations, Lewis was lying in the window. We didn't want lap times that were too fast because the tires had to hold up until the end, ”explained Wolff. Hamilton was annoyed: “It's never easy to put up with when you lose a sure win. It feels like a dark cloud over me. We rely on computers and data in this complex Formula 1. I wouldI prefer to follow my instincts in some cases. ”

However, the strategists were still right when the first important decision of the race was made. Hamilton was called into the pits on lap 19, put soft tires on him and so successfully fended off Ferrari's undercut. The Italians had used Kimi Raikkonen a lap earlier to pull Mercedes out of its comfort zone. If Mercedes hadn't called Hamilton to change tires, the Finn would have taken the lead.

Why did the VSC even exist?

The race management initially responded double waved yellow flags on the standing HaasF1 by Grosjean. “When we noticed that the recovery was taking longer, we triggered the virtual safety car,” said race director Charlie Whiting. “The marshals did not get the car rolled away. Maybe because the wheel was loose. That's why we ultimately had to send the right safety car out onto the track. ”

How is the race pace of the top 3?

Mercedes took pole, Ferrari the victory, Red Bull the fastest race lap. That sounds like a balanced top field, but it's not. Although the Mercedes lead shrank in the race trim, the Silver Arrows were still superior. “Lewis had the faster car. We have to do our homework, ”says Vettel. Hamilton followed Vettel like a shadow after the restart. But there is only one track on the racing calendar that is more difficult to overtake than in Albert Park: in Monaco. In Australia it took a speed delta of at least 1.8 seconds. “I was faster in the corners. But the Ferrari is super fast on the straights, ”said Hamilton. The race confirmed the qualifying: Ferrari has a powerful engine, but deficits in all types of corners.

In the turbulence of the Ferrari, the Mercedes W09 lost contact pressure. 'You can feel a loss of downforce three seconds behind the car in front,' said Valtteri Bottas, describing the problem in Melbourne. Still, Hamilton could not be shaken off. Until he made a small mistake on lap 47. Even after that, the world champion crawled up again. “But driving behind brought the tires to a boil,” said Wolff. In addition, the drive unit threatened to overheat. Hamilton explained: “Actually it speaks against my philosophy as a racer. I always give 120 percent to win. But we only have three engines available. With these three I want to get through the 21 races. That's why I slowed down the pace in the final laps. ”

Red Bull pushed the gap of seven tenths of a second in qualifying to the famous Mercedes Power mode. They claim to be at least as fast as Mercedes in the corners. The world champion's engineers see it differently. “According to our calculations, our chassis is one and a half tenths better than Red'sBull. “The Renault V6 still has a major performance deficit. '30 hp. When Mercedes gets up to speed, it's much more, 'says Red Bulls Helmut Marko.

Daniel Ricciardo's fastest race lap confirms that Red Bull has a fast car over the distance. “That was basically our only free lap. And we didn't buy the time on fresh tires, ”says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. Toto Wolff says: Three teams can win races. “Whether that is not the good weather policy of the Mercedes boss.

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Max Verstappen turned in turn one.
What happened to HaasF1?

HaasF1 had the fourth fastest car. But what good is it if sloppiness leads to two failures within two laps. Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean were in fourth and fifth. Both failed because the pit crew did not fit all the wheels properly. In Magnussen's case, the left rear wheel. In Grosjean's case, the left front wheel. “The wheel hub and wheel nut are identical to the previous year. The impact wrenches too. The same mistake just happened twice. The mechanics thought the wheel was on. You pressed the green button and only noticed when you started rolling that the bike was wobbling, 'said team boss Guenther Steiner.

Why was Verstappen turning?

Max Verstappen lost his Red Bull at the entrance to the first corner on lap ten. Red Bull defended its driver. “He crashed over the notch at Turn 12 on lap six. That damaged the diffuser and caused a large loss of downforce in the rear, 'explained Horner. Verstappen complained about an unstable stern. “It was especially difficult for me in the middle of the curve. I had massive oversteer. “The pirouette threw him back to eighth place. He made up two positions to the finish line.

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