Shovlin: Radio system blamed for pit cease issues
The disastrous pit stops by Mercedes at the Sakhir GP were due to a technical problem with the radio system, says Andrew Shovlin, technical director at the trackside.
One sequence that effectively cost them the race, the safety car that Williams’ Jack Aitken brought out on lap 62 got Mercedes to try double-stack drivers George Russell and Valtteri Bottas, only to make it terrible backfires.
First Russell was fitted with the front tires intended for Bottas’ car, and then Bottas, who no longer had a full set, was sent back on the tires he came up with.
After that, Russell had to pit again to avoid a penalty – although the team still received a € 20,000 fine – while Bottas was a sitting duck on much fresher rubber for several drivers.
Shovlin discussed the glitches on the F1 Nation podcast and explained how the team’s radio system led to the mix-up.
“We didn’t have enough time to get an absolute and thorough understanding of what was going on, but we’ve found a smoking weapon,” he revealed. “And that has to do with how the radio system prioritizes messages, for example when Ron [Meadows, sporting director] calls the crews and gets them to prepare the tires for the two drivers.
“And at that time there was a bunch of broadcasts on the radio system… the system knows it needs to prioritize Ron’s messages because the most important thing is that the tires are there, more than whatever a driver is saying or whatever someone else says the crew could say but it looks like there is some time the system is in [not] Decision to let the prioritized message through.
“We missed an important part of the program so half of the tire collectors didn’t get the message and it looks like half of them did. That’s why the cars come in and all the tires are not ready in the pit lane. There was very little time between the safety car and George in the pits. “
And although Shovlin admits it could have simply been avoided if they had decided to keep their drivers out, he claims it was still the right call.
“Yeah, we could have done until the end of the race and in hindsight, if we had stayed outside, if we had avoided the problem it would have been brilliant,” he said.
“But as a racing team you can’t be afraid of a pit stop, and you can’t be afraid of a pit stop under pressure, and we do hundreds of them in races under pressure, double stacked, all sorts of things, and they go well, and the ability to do them Doing under pressure often wins races …
“In a way, the stop was a precaution to make sure we had the best tires on the grid. He would have cemented the lead of the race if we had done well and we need to make sure we understand It’s like any other mistake you focus on the root cause, not all the other kinds of noise and chaos …
“This is something that could and could have got us in the past three years [catch] us in the first race next year. It is something that was in the system and it was terribly unfortunate for the drivers and extremely unfortunate for George that we found that today, but it could have got us anytime. “