Mercedes reveal why they struggled to give Lewis Hamilton vital information

Lewis Hamilton's frustration was clear for everyone to see.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has shed light on the challenges faced by the team during the Austrian Grand Prix, particularly regarding communication with driver Lewis Hamilton regarding track limits breaches. 

Shovlin explained that the FIA messaging system struggled to keep up with the high number of lap time deletions, making it difficult to inform Hamilton in a timely manner.

During the race, Hamilton was one of seven drivers penalized for exceeding track limits multiple times. 

However, further penalties were issued after Aston Martin protested the race result, resulting in Hamilton and seven other drivers receiving additional penalties for previously unnoticed track limits breaches. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

This ultimately led to Hamilton losing a place in the final race standings.

Throughout the race, Hamilton expressed dissatisfaction with his car’s handling, prompting team principal Toto Wolff to intervene via team radio, urging Hamilton to focus on his driving. 

Shovlin shed light on the difficulties Hamilton encountered with the underperforming W14.

“If you were watching the race, you may have heard him talk about understeer in the high-speed corners, and some of the very fast corners are at the end of the lap,” Shovlin explained during Mercedes’ post-race debrief. 

Article continues below

“The problem with understeer is when you carry the speed in, you haven’t really got the ability to tighten the line if you need to.”

Shovlin highlighted the combination of corner nature and kerb as the primary issue for Hamilton, causing him to drift over the track limits and incur penalties. 

However, the situation surrounding the penalties has faced criticism due to the delayed investigation and publication of the final results, which took place five hours after the race ended at the Red Bull Ring.

Shovlin acknowledged that the penalties were justified based on the rules but revealed that Mercedes couldn’t inform Hamilton in a timely manner due to the high number of drivers breaching track limits, which slowed down the FIA’s messaging system.

“So many drivers were accumulating penalties early in the race that the messages weren’t coming up on the FIA’s messaging system quick enough for us to be able to inform Lewis,” Shovlin explained. 

“By the time those messages were actually clear, and we were relaying them to him, he had already accumulated enough incidents to receive the five-second penalty that he served during the pit stop.”

The situation further escalated when the protest by Aston Martin led to a review, resulting in additional penalties for Hamilton. 

READ: Max Verstappen sparks anger from rivals after Sergio Perez incident

Shovlin expressed that the increasing penalties for subsequent incidents ultimately led to Hamilton receiving a 10-second penalty in the final race result.

Shovlin acknowledged that the situation should be examined and suggested that drivers should not feel pressured to avoid any mistakes on the track. 

He emphasised the need for a better solution moving forward and expressed the team’s willingness to participate in discussions to find an improved approach for future races.