Despite Rosberg commanding a lead of just over 14-seconds to Ricciardo’s Red Bull and Hamilton pulling off a monster of a recovery drive from 22nd to 3rd, it wasn’t the smoothest sailing for Mercedes at Spa.
The Mercedes team have a recent history of suffering with tyre degradation on a high downforce set-up. Some will remember before their dominance, from 2010-2012, a team that ate its tyres with the appetite of a Michelin man.
The problem is still a recurring one as Toto Wolff explains,
“All our development and all our simulations are being hurt by a tyre that is completely different in its behaviour than we were expecting. You have a contact patch that is half the size that was estimated, it’s very difficult.
But I don’t want to put the blame on anybody because it’s the same for everybody. It’s just for us we have been consistent in our development and put the car on track in a way we thought was right, and then you’re thrown off the track a little bit on a Friday or on a Saturday because the behaviour is completely different to expected. But this is what it is and hopefully next year with the larger tyres it will be different.
We have a car with a lot of downforce and that is hurting us because we aren’t able to put the downforce on track because in between the tyre just gives up. But again this is maybe even going too far already because they [Pirelli] are having a tough job giving us a product that is right — right for the teams, right for the engineers, right for the spectators for a great show — so there will always be somebody moaning.”
– Toto Wolff
This shows that even the strongest team have issues with Pirelli, but the Italian tyre manufacturer is only doing what it is asked – Providing tyres with a short life to encourage varied race strategies.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 30, 2016
It makes the red flag in Spa an even bigger point of interest. With the worryingly high degradation of the Mercedes W07 considered, it makes you wonder how the race would have unfolded if the team weren’t given the free tyre change before the restart. One thing is for certain, the gap between Rosberg and Ricciardo would have been much shorter.
Monza will require a similar downforce philosophy to Spa. If Mercedes were complaining after last weekend, there’s no reason to believe that this won’t happen again. This means that Mercedes in particular will possibly find themselves in the undesirable position of having to sacrifice ultimate downforce for the sake of tyre preservation. With the likelihood of another red flag slim, they won’t be getting a free tyre change either!
— Hetal Mehta (@HetalMehtaf1) August 26, 2016