Mercedes Well Off The Pace Early In Baku

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

After a torrid weekend in Monaco, Mercedes were looking to get back to their best in Baku, but it wasn’t to be on Day 1 as the team struggled for pace throughout both sessions, causing concern for all in the garage.

The first session of the day saw Lewis Hamilton finish in P7 and Valtteri Bottas in P10. The team’s struggles continued into the afternoon with Hamilton in P11 and Bottas finishing P16 in FP2, reflecting the single lap performance of the car. However, both drivers looked more competitive on long runs towards the end of the afternoon session.

Lewis Hamilton Searching For Answers

After pushing hard in FP2 and still not gaining on his rivals, Lewis Hamilton and his team are searching for answers as they stare down the barrel of a challenging qualifying session.

‘We had a clean run and worked through everything we needed to in both sessions – it just wasn’t very fast! The car felt better in P1 but in the second session, there just wasn’t more time in it – I was pushing hard but we were struggling for grip. We’re definitely a chunk of time down and I think everyone will be scratching their heads tonight, looking into the data to figure out what the issue is. The long runs were slightly better but there’s lots of work to do,’ said Hamilton.

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Friday – Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

Valtteri Bottas Slipping And Sliding

Valtteri Bottas struggled for grip in both sessions, slipping and sliding around the streets of Baku, and is hopeful setup changes made before FP3 will help deliver more performance.

‘It was very tricky for us today, we are clearly lacking pace and it feels like we’re missing overall grip and sliding around. Monaco wasn’t easy but at least we were more or less there for qualifying. It’s been more of a challenging day than we anticipated and we need to figure out why. We were slightly better on the long runs but we’re still lacking pace. So overall not an easy day with lots of work to do – I think it’s going to be a long night,’ added Bottas.

Worst Friday For Mercedes

Although it’s only the sixth race of 2021, Friday’s performance was the worst of the season for Mercedes, with the team left scratching their heads as to why.

‘Today was our worst Friday by some margin. Our biggest issue seemed to be the single lap; we’re a long way from our normal positions so clearly we need to find something very significant there. The long run picture was not as bad – a fair bit behind Red Bull but still in the mix. So, lots to work on overnight; we’re planning a comprehensive programme of analysis and simulator work to try and understand some of these issues but we clearly have an awful lot to find,’ concluded Andrew Shovlin.

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