Lewis Hamilton revealed that Mercedes’ small improvements will not be enough to match Red Bull’s pace ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Last week, after a disappointing Styrian Grand Prix in which Mercedes proved to be helpless against a seemingly unstoppable Max Verstappen, Hamilton asked for new parts to be brought to his W12 in order to keep competing with his Dutch rival.
Later in the week, Mercedes confirmed that the 2021 development was not totally over and that researching forces of the Brackley factory were still allocated to the W12. As Hamilton and Bottas now both have jumped in their improved single-seaters, the first feedbacks were given and were not as positive as the German outlet would have expected.
“We’ve made some small progress today, but I think they still have the two tenths, or maybe it’s a tenth-and-a-half, something like that,” Hamilton said.
“They’ve definitely got something extra in their bag, I already know that.”
“But over a single lap, that felt OK, it felt pretty good.”
“I just expect them to turn up a little more tomorrow. They’ve almost basically got like the qualifying mode that we used to have. I’m gonna ask my guys, I don’t understand where they get it front.”
Talking about their respective setup, both drivers had similar things to say. Although it was pointed out that a “wacky” car setup could have been the reason behind last week’s lack of pace, Bottas and Hamilton went back on their words, admitting that small bits could be brought to the setup but that major changes would probably just make the situation worse.
“I think we started OK, in terms of how the call feels, much better than last week and hopefully we can build from that,” Bottas said.
“For the second week, every single margin in terms of cornering performance and driving performance becomes less.”
“It’s more about fine tuning, rather than finding big chunks of time.”
On his side, Hamilton came to similar conclusions, admitting that the week logically started better than last week but that there was no major point of improvement to be noted.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle in FP1, it was a bit of a struggle because I was just trying a different variant of the car and the car was unhappy, so then I had to make some more changes back, similar to what I had last week some other adjustments and it felt much better so I’m generally happy with where the car is.”
“I’m probably not going to change too much, because most often, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Most of the time, we always try to eke out more, and it gets worse. I’ll be doing the tiniest of tweaks.”