(Motorsport-Total.com) – It has become a Mercedes double victory. But the Belgium Huge Prix 2020 in Spa-Francorchamps would have been very different can go out? At least that was the great concern of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. Because he mentioned the sixth success in the seventh race in danger several times.
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The tension in the Mercedes box was also great during the race because Crimson Bull driver Max Verstappen was in third place, lying within striking distance. “I think they had a brief chance of an undercut on Valtteri. There they were within one and a half seconds. And that would have been enough,” says Wolff.
But here the Mercedes sports director is deceptive: Only in the rounds 13 and 13 Verstappen was less than two seconds behind Valtteri Bottas. But: At this point in time, the safety car was on the track and the only pit stop had already been completed. There couldn’t be such an undercut.
Early pit stop creates worry lines
Wolff suspects that Crimson Bull was still flirting with a two-stop tactic at this point. According to the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli, this would have been “almost as fast” as the conservative one-stop variant that was chosen by most of the drivers in the field. “That,” says Wolff, “would have been the only moment.” And this did not occur.
However, the nervousness in the Mercedes box increased again, namely in the final laps of the race, because the Great tires from Hamilton and Bottas (and also from Verstappen ) had already been switched in lap eleven.
The early Safety Automobile segment due to the accident of Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell had dictated the strategy here. “That’s why we had to bring the tires to their restriction,” says Wolff. And that meant: 33 Race laps on the hard compound, exactly three quarters the distance.
The memory of Silverstone was awakened
While Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo drove the fastest race lap with the same old Great tires at the very end, the tires at Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen “suffered”, says Wolff.
Photo series: Antonio’s accident Giovinazzi and George Russell in Spa
Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi is leaving the Belgium Huge Prix. And shortly afterwards, Williams driver George Russell is involved in the incident. Both remain unharmed. The entire accident as a photo series! Photo gallery
He explains: “There was no indication of an error or a loss of pressure, but the temperatures left slowly. That in turn is an indication that the rubber level is decreasing. “
And then the Dismay shrilled at Mercedes . “Of course, Silverstone was in mind,” says Wolff. There, among others, Hamilton and Bottas had suffered tire damage, which would have cost Bottas a secure podium place and Hamilton almost the race win.
Hamilton : Maybe not that bad after all …
That is why Mercedes was particularly careful in Spa-Francorchamps. “At the end we slowed down, just like Max,” says Wolff. “We wanted to make sure we could finish without any problems.” And this calculation also worked: The cushion at the back on Ricciardo was big enough for the high 3.
And Hamilton later explained: It was not as bad as feared on the tire front. O-Ton: “It looks like there is still a lot of rubber on it. Maybe everything was alright and maybe we united states of America worried for nothing.”
He himself states, even before that Having mastered several critical moments, first and foremost the start phase and later the restart after being neutralized by the safety automobile. Both times the weather was good for him – or rather: just not.
“Luck” with the wind helps Hamilton
“In the past, we often had headwinds before Turn 5 and then you have greater air resistance. The car behind you benefits from this because it is better But this time we had a tailwind. That helped me to keep Valtteri at a distance, “said Hamilton. He was “lucky”.
In fact, there was never a real attempt to attack the Huge Prix winner, neither in the starting lap nor after the Safety Automobile segment. Bottas was never within striking distance, even Verstappen never came into attack position.
And so Hamilton’s victory was only in danger once, namely right after the start of Turn 1 when he “made a little slip” had done. Hamilton on ‘Sky’: “A mistake, but actually not a mistake. Just look at the tires and how they are.”
Not the easiest race of the year
The consequence from Hamilton’s point of view: “It was Valtteri’s turn, I had to block.” Bottas, however, could not use the subject. And after turn 5, Hamilton had free passage.
Whether it was his easiest win this year? Hamilton denies: “I would say Barcelona was the best race. Spa was positive, but stressful at the beginning and at the restart.”
It was generally a “pretty good weekend”. “However, there are definitely areas in which we can improve united states of americanoch.”