Mercedes have admitted that they are aiming to understand why the performance of their drivers has differed so much in recent races.
Lewis Hamilton outperformed Valtteri Bottas at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which proved to be a particularly challenging weekend for the Finn. Mike Elliott, Technology Director at the team, has explained why Bottas struggled more in Baku.
"I think at this circuit one of the difficulties is getting the warm-up of the front tyre and it is also a circuit where you need to have real confidence, the walls are really close and if you get it wrong you are going to put it into the wall," Elliott said in the Mercedes post-race debrief.
"Those two things kind of go together because if you can go a little bit quicker, if you can get yourself a little bit closer to the wall because you are confident, then you get a bit more heat into the tyres because you have got more duty.
"If you get more heat into the tyres you get a bit more grip and you can go faster and so you end up with this sort of positive spiral that I mentioned before.
"If I look at the weekend I think Lewis found a little step in FP3 with setup and that seemed to help him find a little bit more from the car and all of a sudden we went from struggling a bit to being really in the front runners on the pace and Lewis took that all the way through qualifying. The lap he set in Q3 to be second, it wasn’t one lap he was actually quick all through qualifying.
"With Valtteri, I think Valtteri just didn’t get to that position. He didn’t find that, sort of, last little bit of confidence to be in that positive spiral in the same way and I think if you look at the weekend as a whole and you look at what happened in qualifying and you look at what happened in practice there were a lot of drivers who understeered wide and put the car into the wall, presumably because they didn’t get the front tyres into the window, and to the credit of our drivers both of our drivers avoided that mistake."
At the previous race in Monaco, Bottas seemed to have the upper hand over Hamilton in terms of on-track performance and Elliott says that the team are keen to better understand why this is happening.
"I think it is also worth bearing in mind that if you sort of look at this weekend and compare it to last weekend in Monaco, in Monaco it was Valtteri who was able to get the tyres into the window and get the best of them and it was Lewis that was struggling a bit more," Elliott explained.
"So I think this is something that we need to understand as a team, it is something we need to work on and improve because if we don’t improve on that there will be other circuits this year where we will find the same problems."