The Mercedes team returned to a sunny Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with a vastly different car to the one which completed pre-season testing on the same circuit back in February.
George Russell rounded out the first practice session of the day in P4 with Lewis Hamilton close behind in P6, while both drivers reported an improvement on the porpoising issues which have affected the W13 this season.
The two drivers took a step forward in FP2 with George in P2 and Lewis in P3, after the team experimented with setup tweaks to put it in a more performant window.
‘In Miami we were quickest on Friday, here we’re second but the car is definitely reacting differently.. We don’t have the porpoising on the straights which is great but we’re still experiencing it here and there through the corners which ultimately we need to dial out. Red Bull still look very strong and the team to be reckoned with at the moment. I see no reason why we can’t be as close, if not a little closer, to the front throughout the weekend. With the differences in power modes it is difficult to tell where we are on true pace, Ferrari and Red Bull looked to be in their lowest power modes. Degradation was massive for everyone and that’s going to be make-or-break in the race on Sunday so that’ll be our focus tonight.’
‘I’m super happy with the progress and a massive thank you to the team back at the factory for all the hard work, refusing to give up and continuing to push. We’re not the quickest yet but I think we’re on our way. It’s the first time we’ve driven down the straight without bouncing; we still have some, but it’s way better. We’re starting to eke into the potential of the car. It remains tough out there but much nicer to drive than it has been before. We’ve brought a few upgrades and we now need to fine tune them. We have a lot of data to go through to position the car, I think we can get it into an even better place for tomorrow to hopefully tap on the heels of the guys in front. Degradation is going to be key here, with these tyres you can’t attack, attack, attack – they require a lot of management in these temperatures.’
‘It’s been a solid start to the weekend, the car is behaving more normally here in Barcelona. We’ve made progress on reducing the bouncing with this aero update and the pace looks to be a step forward; not quite at the level of Red Bull and Ferrari but we’ve hopefully pulled ourselves out of the midfield group. We’ve also had a smooth introduction for the second power unit with both drivers. The hot conditions here are giving the tyres a tough time, it’s very easy to overheat them and the degradation rates are high which should make the strategy quite interesting. We’ll be running in the simulator in Brackley tonight, trying to find a bit more time in the car but at least we have a good platform to base this on and hopefully we can find a little bit more to carry into tomorrow.’