A lack of battery charge in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Formula 1 car’s engine left him a “sitting duck” against Max Verstappen during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton moved into the lead of the race on Lap 21 at Interlagos after Mercedes successfully pulled off an undercut strategy on polesitter Max Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver quickly blasted back past along the main straight.

Speaking after the race, Mercedes technical director James Allison revealed Hamilton was so easily overtaken due to using up all the battery deployment in his W10 while setting a fast lap to make the undercut possible.

“The pace with our car was not really there to be able to do the sort of dominating type of race attacks that we’ve been able to sometimes this year,” Allison said.

“So we pulled the trigger for an undercut in the first stint, just theoretically in undercut range and Lewis had to throw out a fast lap to make that work and got lucky got lucky with the release of the Williams into Max’s path and got in front.

“At that point we were thinking it’s close but they [Red Bull] probably haven’t got the pace to breeze past us just as we didn’t pass them.

“But we actually used most of our energy in the battery making the undercut work and by the time we went up the hill we were a sitting duck to Max, who had good straight-line speed all weekend.

“Take our battery away and you saw what happened.”

Allison said Mercedes made a “rookie error” by electing to bring Hamilton in for a third pit stop under a late Safety Car triggered by a collision between Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Allison admitted Mercedes had not factored Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly properly into the equation and only expected Hamilton to give up one position when in fact he lost two.

Hamilton then collided with Alexander Albon while battling over second place on the penultimate lap and was stripped of a third-place finish after receiving a post-race five-second time penalty that dropped him to seventh.

“Having not had the shiniest of races, we then just did something plain dumb. We thought we were exchanging a place for fresh rubber with enough laps left to get that place back and have enough laps left to go for the lead,” Allison explained.

“That was just firstly, factually incorrect because we exchanged two places, we hadn’t factored Gasly and secondly, with the amount of debris on the track there was just a lot more laps taken up by the Safety Car than we’d anticipated.

"It was a rookie error of not having a quick enough car on the day and trying to stretch too much for a victory that wasn’t on and we just made a mistake.

“This was entirely our fault," he added. "We saw what we thought was a fleeting opportunity. It was not at all clear to us that it was the right thing to do but there was a possibility.

“We thought ‘let’s give Lewis the chance to give his view’, which we shouldn’t have done because honestly we didn’t give him the right information.

“We should have just made the decision ourselves. From the moment we made the call it was like a heart sink moment after he emerged behind Gasly.”

 

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