Mercedes braced for "very difficult" Baku F1 qualifying

Mercedes is braced for a “very difficult” Formula 1 qualifying in Baku after seeing its Monaco struggles continue through practice, reminding Toto Wolff of Singapore 2015.

Mercedes braced for "very difficult" Baku F1 qualifying
Listen to this article

Mercedes slumped to its worst result of the season in Monaco two weeks ago as Lewis Hamilton could only finish seventh, while teammate Valtteri Bottas retired due to a wheel nut issue.

The team had failed to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari for much of the weekend, with Hamilton in particular struggling to get his tyres in the right window around the tight Monaco layout.

Hopes of a turnaround in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix took a hit on Friday as Hamilton finished 11th in FP2, five places ahead of Bottas in 16th.

Bottas said after Friday’s running that there was something “fundamentally wrong” with the Mercedes W12 car in Baku, while Hamilton felt the team was “definitely quite a chunk down” on its rivals.

Team principal Wolff was frank about Mercedes’ chances in Baku, believing its slow-speed struggles in Monaco had carried over to another street circuit.

“We have a strong race car, but we’re struggling to really nail it for a single lap,” Wolff said.

“Today was a day of data collection and analysis, but definitely what we have seen in Monaco is a bit of a prolongation into Baku, that there are certain parts of the track where we simply don’t perform.

“[For] most of the layout, there is no fast corners. It’s all stop and go, it’s all 90-degree corners, or more tricky Monaco-style. So it was always clear that it would be difficult for us.”

It led Wolff to offer a bleak outlook for Mercedes’ chances in qualifying on Saturday, comparing it to the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, when amid a dominant season, the team found itself third-fastest and 1.5 seconds off the pole time.

“Racing is done on Sunday, and I think qualifying can be a very, very difficult session for us, probably one of the most difficult I have ever seen for us,” Wolff said.

“It reminds me of Singapore ’15. But we take it on the chin, and I believe like I said to you, we have a good race car, so there is ground to recover on Sunday, and then learn.

“It is what it is. We try to go as fast as possible with the kit that is available.”

Read Also:

Hamilton’s best lap in FP2 saw him finish over a second behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez at the head of the field, suggesting the gap had even grown between the two teams since Monaco.

But Wolff said the struggles came as little surprise to Mercedes, feeling the layout played to the strength of its rivals, who were also benefitting from running a flexi-wing.

“We knew that Monaco and Baku are not tracks that suit us,” Wolff said.

“They were very good in those twisty parts in Monaco, so they are very good here too, and Ferrari also.

“And then on the straights, if you have a wing that gives you this additional speed, you have the optimum combination against us.

“You just need to take it on the chin for here, and try to give it the best performance and collect the most points.”

shares
comments

Related video

Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying – Start time, how to watch, channel

Ferrari won’t be "deluded" by Baku F1 practice form

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Alex Kalinuackas

Assessing Hamilton's Mercedes stint Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Alex Kalinauckas

Assessing Wolff's Mercedes influence The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

The line-up Ocon, Gasly may emulate The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

Who were the fastest F1 drivers? Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Adam Cooper

Why Hulkenberg is ready for return Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

Why Vasseur relishes the pressure Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Jake Boxall-Legge

F1 2023's crucial tech changes The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023