The Azerbaijan GP was one of the toughest races for Mercedes in a while, and the whole team acknowledges it.
Valtteri Bottas struggled the whole weekend, and he was nowhere in the race, in which he finished outside the top ten.
The seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton seemed to have the pace to make Mercedes shine even in a difficult weekend, but a mistake at the restart after the red flag made him drop last.
“Today, in the race, I was lacking pace, as I have been all weekend,” said Bottas. “It’s difficult to understand why. One big issue is the tire warm-up, particularly the front tires. On the hard tires, it took almost ten laps to warm up, and on the restart, we were on the back foot with cold tires. I was trying everything I could, but something just wasn’t right with the car for me this weekend. We need to work hard to figure out why and move on quickly from this.”
Even a true champion like Lewis admitted that there is something to learn from this weekend, and he feels sorry for the missed opportunity.
“An unfortunate day, a humbling experience, and I’m so sorry for the team. We did a good job to be in the position we were in today, to be out of the top ten on Friday and come back was down to the hard work of the men and women in this team. When Checo came towards me after the restart, I turned the wheel and flicked a switch that shifts the brake balance, and that caused me to lock up.
“It’s one of the toughest moments I’ve had for a while – one moment we had all the points, and the next we had none, but for sure, we’ll regroup and come back.”
Toto Wolff also spoke about the problems that Mercedes had to face both here and in Monaco, saying that the team wants to come back stronger.
“In Monaco and here we didn’t have a competitive car, full stop. We have underlying issues – we are not getting the car in a happy window for the tires. We know the deficit, and we know we have gaps that we simply have to overcome, but I have no doubt, this is a team that is so strong and so angry, and we are going to turn that anger into a positive form and come back.”
Finally, Andrew Shovlin echoed Wolff’s words by underlining how difficult is for Mercedes to put heat into the tires.
“An extremely disappointing end to the weekend, but that’s just how luck pans out sometimes; Max’s misfortune put us in that position in the first place. The bigger issue that we have to deal with is that in the last two races we haven’t been good enough. Not fast enough, we’ve made mistakes, we struggle to switch the tires on, and we’ve been on the back-foot through free practice. We know the level it takes to win championships, and we’re not at that level right now so we need to re-group and come back performing the way we know that we can.
“We have the team, the car, and the drivers to win this, but we need to be tough and honest with ourselves over the next few days. We’ve had days like this before, and each time we’ve come back strong, and we’ll look do that in France.”