Mercedes: The Toughest Decision Was to Stay on Slicks in the Rain

Mercedes: The Toughest Decision Was to Stay on Slicks in the Rain

Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin discusses the challenges faced during the Silverstone race, where the Silver Arrows made almost all the right calls.

While McLaren faltered with tire choices for Lando Norris and Red Bull and Ferrari made mistakes by sending Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc onto intermediates too early, the Mercedes pit wall consistently made the right decisions.

Lead race engineer Andrew Shovlin provides insight into the critical moments of the Silverstone race, which ultimately led to success for the Silver Arrows. One of the toughest decisions, he says, came relatively early in the race when it was right to stay on slicks despite the wet track.

“If you came in for inters, it wasn’t wet enough, and you’d destroy them. Then what do you do?” Shovlin asks. “Then you either have to switch to a slick or another intermediate.”

This exact scenario happened to Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez, who came into the pits and were no longer contenders in the race, losing up to 15 seconds per lap and eventually having to switch to new intermediates like everyone else.

Mercedes relied heavily on its rain radar for this decision. “It was pretty easy to spot the incoming rain here. So we knew when the shower would hit,” Shovlin explains.

“The radar gives you a good idea of how heavy it will be, and fortunately, we had experienced many other showers over the weekend. So we knew what to expect.”

Therefore, they told the drivers that they would likely have to sit out the first shower and endure a few difficult laps.

Why Mercedes Suddenly Lost Pace

Russell and Hamilton did just that, but both struggled during this phase and lost their double lead to McLaren. Mercedes could not maintain the strong pace they had at the start.

“It’s related to tire temperature,” Shovlin elaborates, “and the difference between us and them might have been that our tires were slightly more worn, so there was less rubber.”

“When you lose rubber, the tire temperature drops. But if you add a bit of rain, it cools down quickly, and you can completely fall out of the window,” he says.

“So there was a brief period where we really struggled with grip. We got back on track, but it all comes down to temperature and might indicate who had the most rubber left in that crucial phase.”

Double Stop Was the Right Call

Soon after, the heavy rain came, forcing all drivers to switch to intermediates. Max Verstappen from the leading group made the first move on lap 26, with Mercedes following a lap later. Notably, the team executed a double-stack pit stop, bringing both drivers in simultaneously.

Although Russell had to wait behind Hamilton, this strategy was still better than McLaren’s, where Oscar Piastri stayed out for an extra lap, losing significant time and possibly the race victory.