Mercedes urged not to be distracted by ‘relatively easy’ Verstappen penalty

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Mercedes urged not to be distracted by ‘relatively easy’ Verstappen penalty

Formula 1

Mercedes urged not to be distracted by ‘relatively easy’ Verstappen penalty


Andrew Shovlin wants Mercedes to not dwell on recent results and instead focus ahead to this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, where rival Max Verstappen will begin on the backfoot with a three-place grid penalty.

Verstappen was penalized for causing a collision with Lewis Hamilton in the Italian Grand Prix, an incident that saw both drivers retire from the race. The stewards handed the championship leader a three-place grid penalty for this weekend’s event at Sochi and Mercedes trackside engineering director Shovlin urged his team to not get overly affected if Verstappen quickly negates it.

“We obviously felt strongly that Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong and that Max was predominantly to blame,” Shovlin said. “I think if you look at the fact that even Helmut (Marko) and Christian (Horner) weren’t trying to blame Lewis, it feels like they know that Max was in the wrong because they will try to blame Lewis at any opportunity.

“Ultimately, I think it cost Lewis a win or certainly a second place, so you’ll always feel that three places is relatively easy to overcome if you’ve got a competitive car.

“That’s all in the past now, we need to make sure we put a good weekend together in Russia. It’s a place where the car should be competitive but we’ve had pretty messy races for quite a long time now and really the team just needs to not get distracted and focus on delivering the kind of performance that we know we can and the performance that we need to to win these championships.”

Shovlin’s reference of “messy races” comes with Mercedes having failed to win since Silverstone, with even that victory coming despite a penalty picked up by Hamilton for colliding with Verstappen.

“We had a car that should have been first and second (in Monza) and we haven’t scored that many points,” Shovlin said. “So I think we need to be pretty critical with ourselves. With Valtteri (Bottas), we denied him the opportunity to win the race. He’s done a brilliant job all weekend and starting from the back, to get through to third was impressive.

“Then even with Lewis, there were certainly things we could have improved, the start on the Sprint qualifying cost him quite dearly so as is often the case, we walk away with a job list of things we’ve got to get better at because we can do better than we’ve done recently.”