Mercedes is investigating the cooling issues they faced during the Hungarian GP, affecting their performance predictions.
Lewis Hamilton secured an impressive 104th career pole at the Hungaroring, narrowly beating Max Verstappen from Red Bull by 0.003 seconds.
Despite Hamilton’s remarkable pole position, the race didn’t go as planned for Mercedes. They had hoped to end Red Bull’s undefeated streak in the ongoing season and secure a win on the podium for the first time since 2021. However, their aspirations were not fulfilled as the race progressed.
The seven-time world champion slipped to P4 on the first lap of the race, struggling to keep up with Verstappen, as well as the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
Hamilton radioed his team to inquire if they had reduced his engine power after the gap deficit between him and the McLaren drivers grew wider.
The revelation soon emerged that Mercedes had miscalculated their cooling strategy, forcing Hamilton and his teammate George Russell to adopt a “lift and coast” approach.
However, towards the race’s conclusion, Hamilton tapped into an untapped performance reservoir. He successfully reclaimed his position by overtaking Piastri toward’s the end of the race, meanwhile, Russell showcased an impressive display by surging from P18 on the grid to an admirable P6 finish.
During the post-race debrief for the Hungarian GP, a pertinent question was directed to Mercedes regarding the performance disparity between the W14 at the start and the end of the race.
In response, Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director, offered his insights.
“We had one issue where the way that we predicted the cooling had meant that we were undercooled, so we are investigating why that wasn’t in line with expectation,” he explained.
“The consequence was that we had to ask the drivers to do lift and coast. This is where before they get to the end of the straight, they come off the throttle and the first bit of the entry phase to the corner they are doing without brakes, then they pick up the brakes later. This helps cool the power unit, but it costs lap time.
“It also meant that neither driver could really attack the cars ahead of them. Later in the race, we got into clearer air, so things were in a better window in terms of the temperatures. We could let them attack the cars ahead and we were able to show better pace.
“It was also that the degradation of the tyres was good. The end of our stints were looking better than the early parts of the stints. You could see that trend and decent performance, particularly for George, at the end of that first stint where he was going very well.”