Mercedes Pushed the Package and Its Drivers Too Far in Baku, Admits F1 Team Strategy Boss

Mercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 8 photos
Photo: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd
Mercedes-AMG F1 driver Lewis HamiltonMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand PrixMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand PrixMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand PrixMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand PrixMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand PrixMercedes-AMG F1 Team at 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
According to Mercedes-AMG F1 exec James Vowles, the outfit’s motorsport strategy director, the German team took their set-up direction to an extreme in Baku, pushing “the package and our drivers too far,” as it focused on maximum performance.
During the race, Lewis Hamilton could be heard complaining of back issues over team radio, and when he finally did exit his car, he put one hand on his back and began walking away gingerly.

While speaking on Mercedes’ YouTube channel, Vowles confirmed that when Hamilton claimed his seat had “gone cold” at one point, it was because numbness had already set in. Still, the seven-time F1 champion is expected to drive in Montreal this weekend.

“[Lewis] is an elite athlete that will push the bounds of endurance of himself and the car,” said Vowles. “That’s what Formula 1 drivers do, that’s what makes them exceptional.”

“On this occasion though, we pushed the package and our drivers too far; we are putting them into significant discomfort, and we simply can’t do that again. Our drivers are not the only ones suffering, you will see in the media a number of comments from a number of drivers who are equally in discomfort and pain. And we have a responsibility now to make sure that this doesn’t carry on.”

Vowles added that he expects Hamilton and Russell to give Red Bull and Ferrari more of a challenge in Montreal, which should make for a spectacular race.

“I think though that the large gap that you saw in qualifying in Baku perhaps won’t be that big in Montreal – it will be back down from where it was and as we go through all the races from then onwards, I am fairly sure we will find small steps and developments that push us back towards the front.”

Despite all their issues this year, the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team sits just 38 points shy of third-place Ferrari in the 2022 Constructors Standings.
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About the author: Sergiu Tudose
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Sergiu got to experience both American and European car "scenes" at an early age (his father drove a Ford Fiesta XR2 supermini in the 80s). After spending over 15 years at local and international auto publications, he's starting to appreciate comfort behind the wheel more than raw power and acceleration.
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