James Vowles provides the final race debrief
Mercedes’ Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles provides the final race debrief of the 2022 season.
Mercedes motorsport strategy director James Vowles has revealed how a singular focus on toppling Ferrari in the constructors’ championship hampered Lewis Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Silver Arrows arrived at the F1 season finale with an outside chance of snatching second in the constructors’ battle from Ferrari.
After dropping behind both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, Mercedes believed the “only opportunity” to achieve its goal was to switch Hamilton to a one-stop strategy, much to the disdain of the seven-time champion.
“Our goal in Abu Dhabi was to do everything we could to really finish second in the constructor’s championship, and to do that you have to finish in front of Ferrari,” said Vowles in a Mercedes video.
“Easier said than done when you are qualifying behind them and when truthfully in the race our car pace wasn’t there.
“But we saw with Lewis that his degradation was actually very good on stint two of the race when we switched to the hard tyre. Obviously stint one [on the medium] wasn’t.”
Explaining that Hamilton had suffered with graining during his opening stint of the race, Vowles added: “What it also did is that we brought the stop forward near enough for that second stint.
“But on that second stint, the degradation with Lewis was low as it was for a few other cars up and down the grid.
“It wasn’t the same for all cars, there were a few cars with higher degradation and in Lewis’s case, the one-stop meant that he would gain track position over Sainz and George.
“But for us, really, getting one car ahead of the Ferrari wasn’t our best opportunity.
“Our only opportunity was to go for that one-stop. On the two, Lewis would have been ahead of George but behind Sainz, similar tyres, similar age, similar car pace and nothing really could have happened.”
Despite stopping Hamilton only once, Mercedes kept George Russell on his planned two-stop strategy.
Addressing this decision, Vowles said: “The reason why we split is that you can gain from safety cars.
“All of that stint of the race where Lewis was ahead, had a safety car come out, we would have benefitted from it because we would have stopped and taken the track position gain with it. Ultimately splitting your cars creates opportunity.
“Unfortunately in this particular circumstance, it didn’t transpire that anything happened.”
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James Vowles provides the final race debrief James Vowles provides the final race debrief