July 23, 2024

Lewis Hamilton was only able to finish eighth at the Brazilian Grand Prix due to Mercedes’s subpar cars, and George Russell failed to finish at all.

“In his wildest dreams,” Mercedes technical director James Allison said he never thought the team would have such a poor Brazilian Grand Prix performance.

Even though their qualifying performances have been patchy, the Silver Arrows have demonstrated strong race pace for the majority of the season. However, during a terrifying Sprint weekend in Sao Paulo, their greatest asset totally failed them.

Their enormous rear wings were a significant contributing factor. They put too much strain on the tires in the corners, which caused them to deteriorate too quickly, and they also created too much drag, which made them slow on the straightaways.

In the end, George Russell was behind Lewis Hamilton when he retired due to the possibility of an engine failure, and Hamilton could only manage eighth place, more than a minute behind race winner Max Verstappen. That was all a year after they had finished first and second on the same Interlagos course.

In an interview with the F1 Nation podcast, Allison expressed shock at how much Mercedes had faltered. “I feel like I’ve been knocked for six by it,” he wrote in an email to the factory.

“I thought we’d be troubling the podium, but it would have been too much to expect a repeat of last year because the stars would have to align for that because we came here. You could argue that your own hubris has brought you to ruin, but I could never have predicted the tumultuous weekend we just experienced.

“In some ways, there’s a comfort in that because we must have just got something wrong and we’ll go off and uncover what that was. And with a bit of luck, under the lovely thing that racing gives you, a couple of weeks’ time we’ll come back and and hopefully put it to bed.”

The fact swift tyre degradation was present, though, is a concern for the team. So much understeer through the corners made it very difficult for the drivers to manage throughout the race, which has been one of their biggest strengths in most other places this year.

Allison added: “The main issue was hot rear tyres, which would give you a snappier end and would give you the sort of tyre degradation we saw, but also an annoying amount of understeer.

“Now, when you’ve got a balance that’s all at sea like that it’s very easy to nibble away – with every bit of throttle you put down, every turn of the wheel – a bit of the tyres. And we’ve got it in a place where a single lap face that was okay, very quickly became more than mediocre as we gobbled our tyres up.”

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