Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes everyone was playing a game during Q3 which led to Sergio Perez missing out on his final run at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Every driver ran very slow out laps at the Hungaroring due to the high temperatures and fragility of the soft tyres with Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Perez at the back of the queue in the closing stages of qualifying. Perez failed to get across the finish line in time whilst Verstappen only made it by one second as he qualified in third place.
"By that stage, we weren't really coaching them and they were picking their own out laps," Shovlin told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press. "I think the big thing at the end of the lap is everybody's trying to get seven seconds of clear air and that's why they're all backing off.
"To be honest, we struggled on the medium. Valtteri had to have two goes at that and I think he was he was going too slow on that, couldn't get them up to temperature and had really poor grip. Then obviously jumping onto the soft you back off the pace a bit.
"But not really anything more than him trying to land the tyres in the right window, got a clear track ahead of them. Obviously it was a bit tight for everyone at the end but that's kind of the game."
The drivers try to create a gap in order to get a small benefit of a slipstream without getting compromised by the dirty air of the car in front in the corners. Shovlin expects this to be a bigger issue at the next two races in Belgium and Italy.
"The game at the end of the session is no one wants to be first car out," said Shovlin. You'll see that much, much more so when we go to Spa and Monza. So everyone's waiting for everyone else to kick it off and if you're at the back end of that then you can get squeezed."