Mercedes F1 team can’t overcome Ferrari's straight-line speed in Italy

Lewis Hamilton led the Mercedes charge through the opening two-thirds of the race.

The Mercedes F1 team scored a double podium finish in the Italian Grand Prix Sunday, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton trying but failing to find a way around the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Despite the finish, the team is closing in on the constructors’ title.

Should Mercedes have put Hamilton onto the hard tires rather than the mediums? That is a question that Mercedes will ponder long into the night. But the decision to pit Bottas considerably later was undoubtedly the right call to make and it nearly paid off.

Facing a lot of personal criticism for some recent underwhelming performances, Bottas was disappointed not to convert his drive into a win.

“I think we had a good strategy with me going pretty long in the first stint and that opening up a few opportunities at the end, but I’m gutted,” said Bottas. “I gave it everything I could to get him and there was no way past.

“Always, when I was getting close enough, there was some front locking because of the lack of downforce. They are so quick in the straights as well, but I tried. I think this was the best we could do today.”

One of the things that made it difficult for Mercedes to maximize the effect of the long DRS run down the main straight was that Leclerc was incredibly quick off the final corner, Parabolica. This meant that the Mercedes drivers were both losing a handful of car lengths before activating the system, and this extra distance negated the benefit.

 

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

Sights from the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Sunday September 8, 2019

“It was really difficult for sure,” continued Bottas. “Trying everything we could with engine modes and everything, but it was not quite enough. We move on.”

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton led the Mercedes charge through the opening two-thirds of the race, but the decision to pit him very early and put him onto the medium compound tires, while Ferrari opted for the more durable hard compound, saw his challenge fade towards the back end of the race.

After a mistake dropped him behind Bottas, Mercedes made the most of an opportunity to pit Hamilton, without losing further positions, to gain an extra point for the fastest lap. With a healthy 59-point lead in the standings however, Hamilton was not too concerned about the result at a track where damage limitation is always the aim.

“He (Leclerc) did a great job,” said Hamilton. “Congratulations to Ferrari and to Charles. He did a great job. A lot of pressure from both Valtteri and I.

“I did the best I could. Following so closely obviously for such a long time, the tires just went off the cliff. Nonetheless, they were just quicker today. Much quicker in the straight line so, even if we did get close, we couldn’t pass.

“Not our day, but still strong points for the team. We pull away from Ferrari in the constructors’ championship and ultimately, that’s what really matters.”

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