There is plenty of performance still to find for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team after a tricky practice day on the streets of Baku.
Lewis Hamilton took P6 and George Russell P8 in FP1 with the car experiencing a poor ride and the car bottoming on the straights which cost lap time.
Both drivers struggled for grip in the cooler second practice session of the day, with George finishing P7 and Lewis in P12.
The team experimented with setup items across both cars for a useful comparison and the factory will be busy overnight to arrive at FP3 in better shape.
‘It was a tricky day and clearly we weren’t as competitive as we’d have liked to be. It’s a tough track to get the tyres switched on and in the right window. You saw a number of other drivers set their fastest times right at the end of a run, whereas Ferrari and Red Bull seem able to just turn it on. At the moment, they have an inherently quicker car than us and we’re doing everything we can to catch up. Even if we get on top of the tyres, that’s only 50% of the problem, the other 50% is just car performance. Now with the cars are running so close to the ground, in the high speed corners the cars are fully bottoming out and it’s the same for everybody, it’s really not comfortable to drive. I don’t know what the future holds for this era of cars but I can’t see us running like this for the next four years so for all of us, conversations will be needed as we’re all in the same boat.’
‘The hardest thing about today was the bouncing, we’re hitting serious speeds at the end of the straight and bottoming out. We’re facing the same problems as in the last race. We tried something experimental on my car in the second session, it didn’t feel great but at least we tried it and we got some useful data to go through. We’ll probably revert to the original set up tomorrow. I can’t tell you one specific area which is costing us the 1.3 or 1.6 secs difference to the front, a lot of it seems to be on the straight but we need to get our heads down tonight and find solutions.’
‘The morning session in hotter conditions was better for us than the afternoon when it cooled somewhat but regardless, we’ve got a bit of work to do to find time on single lap and long run. The balance isn’t a major issue but we’re lacking grip in the corners and the ride on the straights is uncomfortable for the drivers, so we need to improve that overnight. Our straight-line speed also isn’t great but some of that will be due to us hitting the ground on the straights. We did have some new parts on the car today, so we’ll review whether those were contributing to our issues. Overall, we’re not in a good position and it’s one where we need to be looking for some fundamental improvements rather than a case of fine tuning.’