Mercedes says its performance in warm conditions during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has restored belief it can win an eighth Formula 1 championship double this year.
The Brackley-based outfit headed to Brazil off the back of consecutive defeats to Red Bull in Austin and Mexico, and feared the Interlagos circuit would also play into its rivals hands.
But despite Lewis Hamilton’s exclusion from Friday qualifying for a technical infringement, he fought back to beat title rival Max Verstappen and secure his sixth win of 2021.
Having previously struggled to get its car performing in an operating window in hotter temperatures, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said its form in Brazil has boosted morale ahead of the title run-in.
“The car was working well on a single lap and we had good pace in the cooler conditions in the sprint race,” said Shovlin, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“We are keeping the tyres in a really good region, and part of being able to mount a recovery like that is to be able to stop the tyres overheating, because that tends to just neutralise your advantage, and it pulls everyone to the same pace.
“In the race it was a really strong performance but on a really hot track. We were up at 50ºC and it is an aggressive circuit and the car was still working really well.
“So to have performed over the various sessions in such a range of conditions has been really encouraging when you look at the challenges we are going to get over the next three tracks.”
Hamilton sits 14 points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ standings ahead of the final three races that will all take place in the Middle East, starting in Qatar this weekend.
Mercedes’ pace advantage in Brazil could be carried over to the remaining rounds given all are high-speed tracks and will be held in similarly hot conditions – a factor that could prove key in deciding the world championship.
“The impact on the championship [of Brazil], the fact that we have got that penalty out of the way and managed to outscore Max and outscore Red Bull gives us a lot of confidence,” Shovlin said.
“The fact that we have managed to get the car to work well on a track that is aggressive on the rear tyres in hot conditions gives us a lot of confidence.
“So I think for us the championship, coming out of Mexico, we had hoped that we could win them both.
“Now I think it is moving to belief that we can win them both. And we will we working very hard to ensure that we can do that.”