Palmer Exposes Mercedes’ Flawed Strategy Which Gave Verstappen Easy Abu Dhabi GP Win

Published 12/16/2020, 7:35 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 13, 2020 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates winning the race on the podium with second placed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and third placed Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace


Fans deemed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to be one of the most boring races of the 2020 season. However, Mercedes and Red Bull would disagree. With a change in power and supremacy, Yas Marina was exciting for four drivers.

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After an entire weekend of Red Bull dominance, Mercedes can foresee tough competition in 2021.

Max Verstappen, weary of chasing the AMGs the entire season, was demotivated and had accepted that he may have to settle for P3. However, he never gave up, and although he joked about his races, he never stopped pushing the Mercedes cars to the limit.

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Well, better late than never as Verstappen enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Pundits have come up with several explanations for the AMGs lacking pace. The most obvious being the MGU-K, sent out with reduced power. However, Jolyon Palmer explains an alternate strategy that Mercedes could have used to hold back the Red Bulls.

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 13, 2020 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the race Pool via REUTERS/Kamran Jebreili

With two Mercedes in second and third, they had the opportunity to pincer the race leader with a typical split strategy.

As soon as Bottas had a window to pit into he would have dived in, Verstappen then would have had to cover him off to prevent the undercut, whilst Mercedes could have left Hamilton to go long and have a tire advantage at the end,explained Palmer.

However, for this possibility to have reached fruition, ceteris paribus was a necessity.

Mercedes claimed MGU-K alteration was minor

Jolyon Palmer understands that it was just not the weekend for the Germans. They had two crucial problems choking their performance. First, the abnormality in the Mercedes Power Unit. Secondly, the far from ideal fitness of Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes engineers claim toning down the MGU-K should not have had too much of an effect on the form. The modification recorded a minor change in the speed. However, that minor chink kept on adding after every lap, which finally turned into a 16-second gap between Max and Bottas.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – November 29, 2020 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

This [Palmer’s strategy] would have relied on Mercedes being quick enough to be in range of Verstappen at the crucial moments, and Hamilton to be on form enough to make the most of the unfolding situation as well, but it certainly would have given them a chance, and the race a different dimension,” concluded Palmer.

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The biggest shock for Hamilton was not his P3 as he knew that he was not in top form. It was the fact that his team had not informed him about the reduced power in the MGU-K. Had he known of that, he could have adopted a different strategy altogether.

Whatever it was, we hope Mercedes and the champ reach clarity.

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Indrasish Ganguly

395 articles

Indrasish Ganguly is an F1 author at Essentially Sports. An avid fan of the F1 championship, the Kolkata based writer admires Lewis Hamilton the most on the F1 grid. His interest in racing stems from his love for cars and speed.

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