Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call

Andreas Seidl says Lando Norris' decision not to pit for intermediate tyres in the closing stages of the... The post Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call appeared first on F1i.com.

Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call

Andreas Seidl says Lando Norris' decision not to pit for intermediate tyres in the closing stages of the Russian Grand Prix was the result of a collective fault that also involved the McLaren pitwall.

While leading Sunday's race, Norris attempted to force the issue on the partially damp track, telling his team that he wanted to commit to remaining on his slick tyres amid the late shower to try and pull off a win.

The pressure on the Briton was momentarily relieved when Lewis Hamilton who had chased down the McLaren driver opted to stop for a set of intermediates.

Norris pressed on only to be caught out by the worsening conditions that destroyed his lead over Hamilton and ultimately forced him into a late stop for inters just two laps from the checkered flag.

After the race, the devastated 21-year-old, who finished P7 on the road, rued his decision to stay out but insisted it was made in the heat of the moment based on his assessment of the track conditions but also on the information he was being given by his team.

"From one lap one to the other, the whole thing changed," Norris explained. "The game changed completely.

"That final lap when Lewis boxed the slick tyre was still the tyre to be on. On that lap they asked ‘do you want to go on to the inter?’ And for the lap I just did, I didn’t, because the slick tyre was easily the correct tyre.

"Of course, now that’s the wrong decision. But my feeling I had I didn’t know there was going to be a lot more rain and there’s no way of me knowing unless they told me there’s going to be a lot more rain, which they didn’t."

  • Read also: 'Devastated' Norris admits to wrong call in Sochi finale

Ultimately, Seidl judged that team and driver were equally to blame for the botched call.

"He knows this is part of the game, part of the learning as well,” Seidl told Sky F1.

"But not just on his side, the team's side as well because I think there is always a chance to overrule him form the pit wall side from the information we were getting.

"But in the end, together we made this call to stay out.

"I think on Lewis' side we heard the discussions and it was pretty much the same ongoing and on Lewis' side he had the chance to wait for what we were doing and do the opposite because he was in P2 at this point and we didn't have this opportunity.

"We wanted to go for the win, that's why we decided together to stay out. That's why it didn't work out."

Asked if in hindsight, he regretted the call not to pit earlier, Seidl said: "We finished P7, so we regret it at the moment!

"It’s a decision we made together with the team, with the driver and the pit wall. The result is we didn’t get it together today compared to some other teams.

"We will analyse it, learn from it and try to do better next time."

Despite the disappointment, Seidl praised Norris for his performance in Sochi and for nearly delivering a second remarkable win in succession to McLaren.

"I think apart from the last two, three laps, what we've seen from the team again together with him from his side when he pulled off the pole and also today in the race, it's impressive what he's pulling off in his third year in Formula 1," said the German.

"And that's why of course we need to analyse together with him what we could have done better today, learn from it, that's always the first thing we do - it doesn't matter what the outcome of a race weekend is.

"But then at the same time it's important to see all the positives also from his side and come back stronger in Turkey."

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Wolff explains why Mercedes pit wall overruled Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted that his team had been right to overrule Lewis Hamilton at a... The post Wolff explains why Mercedes pit wall overruled Hamilton appeared first on F1i.com.

Wolff explains why Mercedes pit wall overruled Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted that his team had been right to overrule Lewis Hamilton at a critical point of the Russian Grand Prix.

With just five laps to go, a sudden downpour at the end of the race led to fevered discussions on the pit wall about whether to keep their drivers out or to come in for wet weather tyres

At the time, Hamilton was within range of Lando Norris for the race lead. He was reluctant to give up track position and initially stayed out, insisting that the rain was already easing off.

"I ignored the first call," Hamilton told Norris in the media pen later. "I was like, 'No he's right there!'"

But the Mercedes strategists had access to the weather radar which told a different story.

"For the driver it's always very difficult when half of the track is dry and the other one is just a bit humid," Wolff told the media after the race. "We knew that the big weather was coming."

The team acted first to call Valtteri Bottas in on lap 47 when he was running outside the points in 14th.

"We'd made the call a little bit earlier with Valtteri. That brought him into contention after a challenging race. He did a great job to move up the field and into the top five.

"Then our weather frog and the strategists were adamant [that Lewis had] to pit [as well]," he added.

After a troubled start to the race that saw him fall to seventh place on the opening lap behind Daniel Ricciardo, by the closing stages Hamilton had fought his way back to second place and was pressuring Norris for the lead by the time the rain started to fall.

"Those final few laps were so intense, but we managed to make the right calls and lead the field across the finish line," said Wolff.

"We were in a way prepared to brace for the tough end, whether we could overtake Lando on-track or not," he explained. "Then the rain hit and things got pretty erratic at that stage."

While Hamilton did eventually follow order to pit, Norris insisted on staying out - and paid the price as he went spinning off, eventually finishing the race down in seventh place.

"Norris managed the race very well, who knows what would have happened if the rain hadn't arrived, but it did.

"I understand why it was so difficult for McLaren to take this decision to stay out or come in," Wolff said. "As a leader, you can only lose. We benefitted from that today, and it's spectacular for the fans I guess."

Wolff admitted that it was hard to say whether Hamilton could have passed Norris on track if the rain had held off, pointing out that Hamilton had struggled to get around Ricciardo in the second McLaren in the opening stint.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren with race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme. 26.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Russian Grand Prix, Sochi

"Lewis was stuck behind Ricciardo at the beginning of the race, although Ricciardo had DRS," he explained. "I think it would have been difficult to pass. They had a fast car today, and it was well managed from his side."

Chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin commented: "We'd managed to get Lewis up to second and it would have been a straight fight with Lando in the dry.

"We were actually hoping for the rain as it felt like that would be our best chance of making it to the top step.

"Obviously the end of the race was quite exciting, the team stayed calm and reacted well to the conditions and ultimately that's what gave us the win."

The outcome of the race means that Mercedes are now 30 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors standings while Hamilton now has a slender two point advantage over Max Verstappen in the drivers battle.

"It's been a little while since we had a race victory," Wolff said. "But I know results like this will fire everyone up even more to keep pushing until the end of the season.

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