Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton
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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has explained the issues that Mercedes have been facing at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as he claimed their car is “all over the place” ahead of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton was just 12th fastest in both the second and third practice sessions, and there were concerns over whether he would make it through to Q3 in qualifying.
Both Hamilton and team-mate George Russell have suffered heavy proposing in Baku, as Wolff highlighted the issues that Mercedes have been facing. “The car is just all over the place with porpoising and bouncing, you name it”, the Austrian told Sky Sports F1. “It is never one thing… add to this we are maybe not the most efficient in terms of drag, we are losing more than a second to Ferrari in straight-line speed, all of that makes us just not competitive.
“I don’t think, where we are at the moment, it’s comfortable going into Q3. It’s obviously what we’re aiming for but definitely comfortable is not the right word.”
Hamilton also suffered a pedal problem during qualifying. “There is going to be a lot of traffic, getting the tyres ready for lap one is going to be difficult,” the seven-time world champion claimed as he waited to get out of the pits. “Copy that. But we need to stay on plan,” his Mercedes engineer replied. Hamilton’s first lap time was 1:44.517, and his second improved at 1:43.952 before a red flag was shown following Lance Stroll’s crash on Turn 2.
On Friday Hamilton admitted that he was hoping that the car would not suffer as much porpoising as he did in Monaco. “Lots of work’s gone on,” the 37-year-old said. “I hope it’s not as bumpy as Monaco but we will find out when we get out there today. Like everyone was saying, lower downforce should be better, I hope so.”
When asked if the circuit played more to Mercedes’ strengths than Monaco, Hamilton replied: “Not particularly. When you talk about car strengths, I don’t know which ones we can align to here.
“We are obviously stronger on a smoother circuit. Barcelona was a lot better for us, for example. There are more open circuits that aren’t as bumpy, this is a bumpier circuit.
“So not necessarily great for the characteristics within our car but it might be smoother, it might be okay.”
Hamilton set a target of the British Grand Prix for when he hoped that Mercedes would challenge Ferrari and Red Bull for podiums. He is currently sixth in the overall standings, behind his Mercedes team-mate Russell and 75 points behind leader Max Verstappen.
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