Formula One star Lewis Hamilton is being helped in his title battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by a number of ‘spies’ within his Mercedes team.
A report from The Sun revealed the seven-time constructor champions have a team of 10 students that ‘monitor the airways’ of their opponents, dropping into radio communications as well as watching video footage in an effort to gain an edge.
This extra edge could well prove pivotal in this year’s title race, as Hamilton finds himself in unfamiliar territory as he is the man chasing leader Verstappen with just five races to go.
The Mercedes ‘spy’ team all work out of the ‘Race Support Room’ the hub of all the hard work behind the constructors’ champions.
After information is gathered it is then put into transcript and relayed to senior Mercedes bosses, which inturn is passed over to the pitlane in a bid to help and aid their strategic race decisions.
The man in charge of the team’s Race Support Room Dominique Riefstahl revealed all regarding the intriguing 10-student spy team, describing them as ‘extra man power’.
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He told The Sun: “It’s extra manpower, because listening to 20 car feeds’ worth of people talking, you just need ears to monitor all of the TV feeds, you need eyes on the ground.”
The team’s Senior Race Strategy Engineer Joseph McMillan also gave insight into the work the students carry out, adding: “The students are doing things like listening to all the radio comms and transcribing.
“So we can see all the text, and clipping videos. They volunteer at the weekends because it’s cool.”
He also pinpointed this year’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona as a prime example of where the support room has been pivotal in helping Mercedes secure a win.
He added: “The Spanish GP this year is a great example of when a decision has been made here, rather than at the track and resulted in a win.
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“We changed from a one-stop to a two-stop for Lewis. I’d done the maths, said: ‘Here’s the plan, we should do this.’
“Chief strategist James Vowels looked at it and went ‘Yep, you’re right.’ He did it and Lewis won.”
The Sun’s report also got the thoughts of Mercedes main man Hamilton, who admitted the Race Support Room is hugely important to his succes out on the track.
He commented: “The RSR is so important for the team and how we function through the weekend.
“When we do our big comms meetings, the RSR team are on the other line listening in and we are just one big team.
“The guys in the RSR back at the factory are doing a huge amount of simulation, preparation, finding answers, downloading information and understanding that information so we can make the right choices on a weekend.
“They are a super-important extension to what we do at the track as we have limited numbers and are integral to us achieving our goal which is winning races.”