Valtteri Bottas struggled to find pace throughout the whole Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, and he later said Mercedes will have to “understand” what the issue was.
In Mercedes’ Azerbaijan Grand Prix debrief video, Mike Elliot said the lack of pace was down to the Finn not being able to gain enough confidence on the narrow streets of 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,” explained Elliott.
“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.
“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.”
Bottas’ lack of pace was in stark contrast to team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s performance. After FP3, the Briton seemed to extract more performance from the car and later he challenged for pole and the race win.
“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.
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“The lap he set in Q3 to be second, it wasn’t one lap he was actually quick all through qualifying.
“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.
“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.”
Ultimately, Elliot said Mercedes is looking to learn from their mistakes at Monaco and Baku, so that they can improve their performance throughout the rest of the season.
“We probably didn’t get the best setup. This is something we need to look at, something we need to work out how we can build the setup around the changes we’ve made and then carry that forward into future race weekends where we have similar issues.
“The other thing to bear in mind is both this circuit and Monaco are probably outliers and actually we’d hope not to have some of the issues we’ve had in the next couple of races.
“Fingers crossed; we will be in a better position,” concluded Mercedes’ Technology Director.