Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

Mercedes simulation shows Tsunoda VSC cost Hamilton chance to beat Verstappen

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ strategy simulations indicated Lewis Hamilton had a chance to win the Dutch Grand Prix had it not been disrupted by a Virtual Safety Car period.

Hamilton was chasing Max Verstappen when the VSC was trigged. Verstappen had a further pit stop to make and was on course to fall behind Hamilton and the other Mercedes of George Russell when he did.

The VSC allowed him to lose less time making that pit stop and maintain his position ahead of Hamilton. Had the race run without interruption, and Verstappen fallen behind Hamilton when he pitted, Mercedes believe their driver had a chance to win it.

“The simulation says that Max would have come out eight seconds behind us with 20 laps to go. But obviously he would have probably pitted on the hard at that time and I think we would have had a fair shot at the win. The race planner said the win is on – tight, but on.”

Verstappen “would have caught us like six laps to the end”, said Wolff.

The circumstances which led to the VSC were unusual. Yuki Tsunoda came to a stop on track complaining a wheel had not been fully fitted during a pit stop. He then drove back to the pits where he received attention, only to return to the track and stop, triggering the VSC.

As Tsunoda is a Red Bull junior team driver, his involvement in the scenario which benefitted Verstappen prompted some speculation. “If we were to fight for a championship, that would be something that I would closely look at,” Wolff acknowledged.

“I think what needs to be investigated for the safety of drivers and everybody out there [is] the driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap [and] came in. The problem wasn’t solved, they put the seat belts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again.

“That probably has changed the outcome of the race that we maybe could have won. But this word ‘maybe’ or not, it’s anyway irrelevant for me. I’m not thinking about that anymore, it’s gone.”

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2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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27 comments on “Mercedes simulation shows Tsunoda VSC cost Hamilton chance to beat Verstappen”

  1. Good headline for Merc to keep the attention away from the rather unfortunate call afterwards and the end result.

    1. Anyway: Mercedes relying on simulations rather than thinking on their feet has been a problem for them in the past and I feel that still might be part of their culture.

  2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    4th September 2022, 18:43

    No way they would have won, Lewis would have to do 40 laps on hard and Max would have been on 20-24 laps old mediums lapping faster and with DRS overtaking like he did Russell and Lewis in the real race.

    Sure Mercedes analysis might show that but likely they would have under estimated Max lap times.

    1. Wrong Mercedes tyre deg is less than Max’s tyre deg max would need to pit again to keep lapping faster.

    2. Those simulations seem filled with hopium and deprived of copium.

  3. “Tsunoda it’s horner our super max cannot reach hamilton despite having the fastest redbull could you please attempt a crashgate 2.0 yeah we get you a seat soon”

  4. Didn’t Mercedes gain from it with a free pit stop?!

    It was the choice to go through the pit lane later on that ruined Hamilton’s chances

  5. The unreliability of Mercedes’ simulations is part of the reason they’re in the position they’re in, of course…

    I agree that it would have been close between Hamilton and Verstappen had the VSC and SC not intervened. But that’s racing – Mercedes have benefited from plenty of timely interruptions in the past.

    Wolff’s conspiracy theorising about Tsunoda is unworthy of comment.

    1. @red-andy more fake news. Toto was not blaming Yuki who did everything possible to not force a sc and is right to question AT who is RB sister team who did everything possible to sabotage Yuki’s race to dnf him on track when they had every the opportunity to box and retire.

      Only the biggest Lewis haters would deny that he was robbed of a win as he was on amazing pace on Hard’s.

  6. Didtheir simulations said they could hold Verstappen behind with worn tyres too?

  7. My simulations show that Mercedes shouldve picked me over Hamilton and I couldve been 11x WDC.

  8. Strong blame game by Wolff. The guy is becoming a real Trump-alike.

  9. Just because they aren’t fighting for either championship doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ask FIA to look at AT’s & Yuki’s actions in case of any, even small, race-fixing motive, but Max would’ve won in either scenario, given his overall pace advantage.

  10. This is probably accurate, but they could have had a chance to beat Verstappen WITH the Tsunoda/AT shenanigans.

    1. No way this is accurate. Max would have sailed past the Merc after the extra pitstop.

      Lewis was 14 sec behind Max when Tsunoda pulled over. Let’s say this never happens and Max pitts then or a couple laps later. He would end up behind Lewis only a handful of seconds, with much fresher tires (quicker compound possibly) and a faster car. Passing was not a problem, so why are people really thinking Lewis had a chance. My guess he would have been 2nd but way back, 10 seconds or so behind Max.

      1. forgot to say that a regular, non-Ferrari style pitstop only takes about 17-18 sec in Zandvoort due to the shorter pit straight.

  11. Didn’t Mercedes simulation also show that they would have a championship winning car this year?

    1. How is Ferrari doing now that they finally have a championship winning car? They get every decision right and they haven’t thrown a single point away . Let’s criticize the slower team that has been out scoring them lately with a slower car.

      1. You might think I’m Tifosi but I’m not. I just selected a random avatar. I love racing in general and have been for many years. I’ve even rooted for Hamilton until 2016 when he was beaten by Rosberg and the whining started. Ferraris performance and decisions are abysmal. So is Mercedes simulation and also their behaviour of lately imho.
        Verstappen was cruising most part of the race. Just watch his onboard on F1tv pro.

  12. How much cost-of-living-emergency energy are these simulations using?

  13. Don’t be silly, RB was far too quick especially on the straights.

  14. Some suspect George wasn’t supposed to have pitted for Softs when he did. If so Mercedes would probably have walked away with a first and a third place finish (Lewis – Max – George, 40 points) or a second and a third (Max – Lewis – George, 33 points), but instead walked away with a second and a fourth (30 points). As Jenson Button said, “This was good for George”.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      4th September 2022, 21:35

      If both would have stayed on used mediums they would have finished 3rd and 4th instead of 2nd and 4th.

      Not pitting 3rd and 4th with a very small chance of winning
      Both pitting 2nd and 3rd no chance of winning
      One of them pitting 2nd and 4th with a very tiny unrealistic chance of winning

      Left or right without further incidents no real change of keeping Max behind of faster softs that suited RB car much more than the medium or hard tire did.

      The best result scenario has a 0% change for the win, Mercedes before the race agreed to go for risky strategy. Accepting Russell call for softs hedges their bet although weakening Lewis chance to win from very small to very tiny and unrealistic as Max clearly demonstrated with the restart and Lewis in just 9 lap old mediums losing more 13 seconds in 12 laps to Max.

      1. @jelle-van-der-meer Completely agree. Mercedes screwed up because their fight is with Ferrari and have no chance to catch VER’s Red Bull. That thing is cranked up and has more in the tank. Same thing with PER at the end. SAI had a penalty and PER should have only been fighting with ALO. PER almost threw that away trying to pass SAI. Mercedes needed to put both cars on softs to keep LEC in 4th. Ferrari was expecting 4th place based on their radio chatter with 30 laps to go.

        1. I vote for deleting every other comment on the subject and let only @jelle-van-der-meer ‘s one.
          Even if tsunoda problem were part of a charade, this comment shows VER would win and, if most, MERC lost a 3rd place for one of their cars.

          1. Even so, I would be interested in seeing a scenario where hamilton tries to defend from verstappen on softs and another without VSC, nor SC play out.

  15. I’ve watched the race from a blogger’s on line feed and never did I see Hamilton outpacing Maxx. Each pitstop verstappen made he quickly built considerable gaps from his pursuers LH included. On the last restart it was Abu Dhabi once again Maxx doing the pass in an instance. How can you win with a worn out tire vs a newly replaced . Same strategy of protecting track position which is passe in today’s racing environment. Same mistake same results

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