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Mercedes explain reason for offset tyre strategy in Japan


Mercedes have given an explanation as to their reasons behind opting for an offset tyre strategy at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, which ultimately offered zero gain for the Silver Arrows in Suzuka. 

Following the red flag that resulted from the crash between Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon, Mercedes opted to move Lewis Hamilton and George Russell from the medium tyres to a set of hards, in the hope of making it through the race on one pit stop.

Hamilton and Russell started seventh and ninth on the grid, and went on to finish in seventh and ninth position, but swapped positions come the chequered flag. Russell pulled off a final lap overtake on McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to finish behind Fernando Alonso. 

“It was a difficult race today,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in a statement. “Our second and third stints were quick and were similar to those ahead who were fighting for the podium. 

“A poor first stint cost us today though and we need to find out why that was. Our decision to take the restart on the hard tyres was the right one I feel, and, in the beginning, our pace was stable with our direct competitors. 

“We suddenly dropped one to two seconds a lap though and at the moment, it was clear that the tyres wouldn’t make the one-stop viable for us.”

Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin reiterated that the Silver Arrows felt the best way to get something from the Japanese GP was to try something different in Suzuka, as all the top teams – other than Alonso – stuck to their strategy on medium tyres. 

“Early in the race, our pace was simply not good enough too,” Shovlin said. “We’d decided to go to the hard tyre at the red flag as we felt there wasn’t much threat from behind, and it was our best way to offset and try something different. 

“Towards the end of that stint we were really struggling with low grip. We couldn’t stop early as there was too much traffic in the window, so we stayed out until we had cleared it. Unfortunately by then, we had lost a chunk of time.”

Mercedes car is becoming quicker

Nevertheless, Shovlin and Wolff were both optimistic for Mercedes despite the relatively poor result in Japan.  

“The second and third stints were more encouraging, but we’d lost too much time by that point to get back into the mix,” Shovlin continued, 

“Despite the challenging result, it has been a useful weekend to learn more about our car and develop our understanding of the W15.”

Wolff added: “Overall, this weekend has been better than the final results suggest. But from what we’ve seen here, we can say that the car is becoming quicker.”

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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