Mercedes drivers reflect on contrasting race results
The Mercedes driver had a difficult Friday and Saturday at the Bahrain International Circuit but managed to come from ninth on the grid to finish just inside the top five. The Brit had a poor first lap that saw him drop outside the top 10 but his final half of the race was far better, swooping through the field to take 10 points.
Speaking in a team statement after the race he said “I’m really happy with our result today. It’s been a tough weekend for us but we got through it and finishing in fifth place was some good damage limitation. My race didn’t start well at all. I was looking after the tyres but I really struggled on the first two stints and was falling back. But as the temperatures dropped, the car picked up and then I had the grip that I needed to push and close the gap. ”
He also described his close battle with Mark Webber towards the end of the race, saying “I had so much fun fighting with Mark at the end. We really needed that point and I was so determined to get by. It was good, clean wheel-to-wheel racing.”
Despite a difficult race weekend overall, the good helping of points for the 28-year-old means he currently sits third in the drivers standings. “I’m very proud of what we have achieved over the first four races and to be third in the Drivers’ Championship is beyond any of our expectations. But we’ve got to keep pushing and find more performance. We’re hanging on by the skin of our teeth at the moment and, if we can make that next step, then we can close the gap.”
In contrast Nico Rosberg had a competitive qualifying session but dropped back during the race, eventually finishing in ninth place. The German was seemingly harder on his tyres in comparison to Hamilton and dropped back towards the end after making a fourth pit stop. He scored two points but after starting from pole position it was not the position he was expecting. “A tough day for me. As nice as it was to start from pole this afternoon, it was just as hard to finish in ninth place. I didn’t feel comfortable in the car today and it wasn’t much fun out there really.”
He admitted that the high tyre wear was spotted at the end of his third stint, so the team decided to change strategy. “We switched to a four-stop strategy at the end of my third stint but it wasn’t enough. We were using the rear tyres too much and at the end, I was really struggling and wasn’t able to push hard enough. There is a lot of work ahead and we need to focus on why our race performance isn’t matching the pace that we can show in qualifying. Hopefully we can make some steps here before the European season starts.”
The Mercedes W04 had a mixed weekend on track but showed some good late race pace and one lap speed in qualifying. Ross Brawn admitted that the high temperatures early in the race cost them dearly and that they need to investigate the problem. “We struggled badly in the early part of the race when the track temperatures were at their highest. This is an issue we have to address and we will continue working on solutions to improve our performance in this area.”
Brawn revealed though that once the conditions cooled down the pace in the car was decent, “In the second half of the race, as the track temperatures cooled somewhat, our pace was not bad – particularly with Lewis. We got two cars home in the points, both drivers enjoyed some exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and the pit crew delivered some great stops. Lewis and Nico did as good a job as possible with the car we had this afternoon but it was a case of damage limitation for both of them. However we must make it a priority to cope better with elevated temperatures: the tyres are the same for everybody and we are not performing as well as our competitors in these conditions.”
So a difficult weekend for Mercedes with split results on the two days where it counted, Saturday and Sunday. With one driver going backwards and one going forwards during the race they have plenty to investigate.
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.