Mercedes Trackside Director, Andrew Shovlin, revealed why the team ignored Lewis Hamilton during the formation lap for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Shovlin explained the reason behind Hamilton’s apparent ‘stalling issue’ before the race start and why Mercedes didn’t do anything to alleviate Hamilton’s fears.
The formation lap for the Hungarian Grand Prix was one of the more interesting ones we’ve seen over the years. With changing conditions, some teams opted to gamble on a different tire strategy compared to the rest of the grid.
Both Haas cars stopped for slick tires before the race start, which was strategically brilliant but in violation of current rules. According to current regulations, teams must not aid the driver on the formation lap.
Haas instructing Grosjean and Magnussen to pit is why the FIA penalized the American team for stopping just before the start of the race.
As Hamilton entered his grid slot, he complained of the engine being very close to stalling. Turns out, the issue was caused by a relatively harmless sensor problem. But Mercedes couldn’t inform the Brit of the same due to current radio rules.
Speaking to the Mercedes YouTube channel, Shovlin said:
“What it actually was, was a sensor issue that was only affecting the engine around the idle controls. When he was sat there, waiting to go off on the formation lap. Now it wasn’t a problem, it wasn’t going to stall.
“And there is a protection that will actually stop the engine from stalling anyway. If you were in that situation, but we couldn’t tell him it was OK. Because of the rules that prevent you [from] talking to the driver during that entire formation lap.
“So we knew it was fine. But he had to sort of worry a bit for the next few minutes until he got off the line.”
Aside from the minor hiccup before the start, Hamilton sped off into the distance to clinch an eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory. By winning at the Hungaroring, Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of most wins at a circuit (8).
Mercedes’ current form is almost reminiscent of the team’s dominant years from 2014 to 2016 when they had no real competition in F1.