Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished in fifth and seventh positions respectively this afternoon at the 2013 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix.
Lewis ran a two-stop strategy using option/prime/prime with stops on laps 9 and 29. His race was defined by a second stint where he struggled with high wear on the right-front tyre. Nico also completed two stops, on laps 10 and 28, running option/prime/prime. Nico was forced to make his second stop earlier than planned after a structural failure of the nose and front wing. The team remains third in the constructors’ championship on 283 points, gaining six points on Ferrari this afternoon.
That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team. After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. In my second stint, running the prime tyre, my right front was just destroyed all of a sudden. When that happens, you start losing temperature, understeering and locking up under braking, so it was really hard to maintain the pace in those laps. It was a really difficult part of the race but I had to get to a certain target lap before I made the final stop. After the Safety Car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber. Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead. It was a nice battle with Fernando but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.
That was another very tough race for me. I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits. It’s a shame because the car felt great today and I found a good balance and how to get the most out of the car, which I hadn’t managed until this point of the weekend. It’s been a real up and down season so far for me but it’s good that we have another race in a week’s time. Our car is very competitive and I had good pace compared to the cars on the podium. So I’m looking forward to the next races.
It proved a very challenging race for the team and one which leaves us with the rather bitter taste of “what might have been” after finishing fifth with Lewis and seventh with Nico. The cars settled in third and fourth positions during the first stint and both looked very competitive compared to those around them. However, Lewis began to struggle around 13 laps into his second stint when he reported that his right-front tyre was no longer performing properly. At that point, we had a difficult decision to make: an extra stop at lap 22 would have committed us to a much slower three-stop strategy, or we could leave Lewis in clean air to tough it out and try and reach the target lap to make our two-stop strategy work. We chose the latter option but it was a pretty painful few laps as Lewis battled to minimise the time loss. On the other car, Nico’s tyres were in much better shape and he was running at the same pace as the leaders and well on course for a podium finish when he suffered a structural failure on the front wing assembly which forced him to make an immediate pit stop. The Safety Car phases ultimately made the final part of the race more comfortable in terms of tyre life but neither driver was able to make up much ground against the cars around them which had a traction advantage. It’s been a tough day and we will aim to deliver a stronger performance in Japan.
Source: Mercedes AMG Petronas