Hamilton brings ‘enormous, inspirational’ energy to Mercedes’ F1 title bid

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has credited Lewis Hamilton for bringing ‘enormous, inspirational’ energy in the team’s pursuit of Formula 1 title glory in 2021.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1
Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1
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Mercedes is looking to secure drivers’ and constructors’ titles for an unprecedented eighth consecutive season should Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen at this weekend’s grand finale in Abu Dhabi.

The momentum was with Red Bull during the Americas stretch of the season, with Verstappen winning in Austin and Mexico, and Hamilton’s disqualification after qualifying in Brazil put the title odds heavily in the Dutchman’s favour.

Since then, Hamilton has won the last three races to move level on points with Verstappen in the championship, while Mercedes is 28 points clear of Red Bull.

Speaking after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Shovlin said: “There’s a lot [of energy]. It feels a bit like when you’re on a long run and suddenly you can see the finish line and you get that push that you can take it up a gear and go to the finish, and I think the whole team’s feeling that at the moment. 

“Lewis is bringing an enormous about of energy and focus to the team, it’s absolutely inspiration looking at what he’s done over the last few races and what he’s had to deal with. Where we lost points with difficult races in Austin and Mexico, that just changed our target. The target became we have to win every race.

“We’ve done three out of the four, but as I said, we know exactly what we need to do and we just need to get our heads down and do the work which is required to deliver that.”

In 2020, Max Verstappen dominated at the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of Valtteri Bottas. 

Notably, it was Hamilton’s first race back after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix due to coronavirus. 

Shovlin believes the combination of Hamilton not being at peak physical condition and Mercedes not nailing the car setup was why Red Bull had the quicker car in last year’s Abu Dhabi GP.

“In terms of who holds the advantage, last year Lewis was a few days after a bout of COVID, so there’s no way he was performing at his best - it’s not an easy thing to get over - and our analysis after that event, which we do after every race, indicated that we just put the set-up in the wrong place,” he explained.

“We had development tyres there, we did work focusing on those - ironically, we’d won the championship and we decided to try and understand the tyres rather than focus on the race weekend. We ended up going into the race underprepared with a car that wasn’t well balanced and I think ultimately that’s where it cost us.

“We’ve had a lot of good races in Abu Dhabi but going in there we’re worried about the unknowns. There’s lots of new areas of the track, we’ve seen performance swing quite strongly - tracks that we thought we’d be competitive at, like Austin, we weren’t good at all. [In Jeddah] we’ve seen Red Bull show us a clean pair of heels on a single lap. 

“So there’s plenty for us to worry about, and then you’ve also got the fact that it’s the softest tires and those can be really tricky on occasion, they’re quite difficult to get in the window. So we’re treating it like a new circuit. We know what we need to do, we need to go there and win.”

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