Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says that the team did not expect Lewis Hamilton to win so comfortably in Qatar.
Hamilton finished first in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix last weekend. Max Verstappen, who came second, finished 25 seconds behind the Mercedes driver. This shows just how comfortably Lewis won the race. However, according to Andrew Shovlin, the team did not expect this to happen.
Shovlin said the team ran many simulations that weekend but still felt that Hamilton defied all expectations. The 7-time World Champion dominated throughout the race, and Verstappen couldn’t get close to challenging him.
The 36-year-old’s weekend in Lusail went off to a strong start when he put in an amazing qualifying performance to start the race on the pole. According to Shovlin, that was the most impressive run.
A great win for our first time in Qatar. #TEAMLH you keep us going, we keep pushing and we feel your energy more than ever. It’s been one hell of a year but I love this battle. Getting right back to work, focused and ready for the final two races. We win & we lose together. pic.twitter.com/sGHFwBcV8c
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 21, 2021
“The margin, yes. We thought we’d be good here, but this was the track of the three that remained that we were perhaps most concerned about. From Saturday morning though it looked like Lewis had it all under control.” said Shovlin.
“It’s challenging to predict that the margin’s going to be one-tenth or two tenths, which is still a pretty handsome margin. We never thought it would be the amount it was, but it all came in that final run. Turn 1 was good, and he said from there it just kind of flowed.” Shovlin added.
“Lewis Hamilton is really in the zone at the moment”, says Shovlin
The Mercedes driver switched back to his old power unit for the Qatar GP. The fresh one he used at Interlagos gave him a considerable speed advantage, but he saves those for the last two rounds in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.
“He’s really in the zone at the moment. We can do all our simulations but nothing explains why he was that far ahead of Max.” Shovlin said.
“Fundamentally it’s just down to him really digging deep and doing what needs to be done.”
Shovlin went further by saying that their car is performing so well despite not having an upgrade since Silverstone is very impressive. Max won back to back races in Austin and Mexico City. But Lewis won in Sao Paolo, and now Qatar has swing momentum back to the British driver.
Drivers: EIGHT points apart
Constructors: FIVE points apart
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 22, 2021
“As the year’s gone on, we’ve understood the car more, we’ve definitely been able to squeeze more performance out of the package without bringing any upgrades,” said Hamilton.
“We’ve not had an upgrade since Silverstone, so it’s pretty phenomenal to see the increments that we’ve been improving.
Verstappen leads Hamilton by just 8 points now. On the other hand, just points separate Mercedes and Red Bull at the top of the constructor’s standings.