Mercedes On The Back Foot In Austria

After being off the pace in Q3 Mercedes are on the back foot going into Sunday’s race, where Lewis Hamilton will start in P4 and his teammate Valtteri Bottas in P5.

With Max Verstappen starting from pole, and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez just behind him in P3, the Mercedes duo have their work cut out for them as they look to close the gap in the 2021 Constructor’s Championship.

Lewis Hamilton Still Looking For Answers

With his title aspirations slipping away week by week, Lewis Hamilton is still searching for answers in his quest to close the gap to Max Verstappen, and was disappointed to finish so far behind the Red Bull in qualifying.

‘This weekend is more of a challenge than it was already last week and we continue to lack pace. We tried everything to get more out of the car but the underlying pace just isn’t good enough at the moment, so we’ve got to really find performance in the following races. I don’t know if McLaren brought an upgrade but they were mega quick today so great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve, we’ve still got a long way to go. In the heat today, Red Bull seemed to step forwards and we stepped backwards so let’s see what tomorrow brings,’ said Hamilton.

2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Saturday - Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Saturday – Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

Valtteri Bottas Going Backwards

Valtteri Bottas expected to fight for pole, but felt like he was going backwards as he could only manage a P5 finish in qualifying.

‘I was hoping to fight for the pole but today it was out of reach. It seemed like we went a little bit backwards from last weekend or others gained more than us. I would say we’re missing maybe a tenth or two from where we should have been and clearly McLaren has found something with the C5 compound this weekend, it seems to work well with their car.
‘I think race pace wise we should be in better shape – all the developing we’ve done with the car setup is aiming a bit more towards the race pace so we need to learn from today and then I’m sure we can get a good result for the team tomorrow. I’m still expecting a big fight with Red Bull in the race,’ added Bottas.

Disappointment For Toto Wolff

With such fine margins covering the top ten, Toto Wolff was disappointed his teams performance fell off in Q3, giving them a lot of work to do come Sunday.

‘What started as a good day in FP3 we couldn’t translate into a good qualifying session. The gaps here are very small and our performance in qualifying wasn’t great, and that showed in the final result. We need to analyse whether a slip-stream could have helped us but overall, we just need to continue to develop the performance of the car. Hopefully tomorrow we will be in better shape for the race and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way,’ concluded Wolff.

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