Mercedes had a difficult weekend so far in Azerbaijan, with their drivers struggling through most free practice sessions. However, in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton amazingly managed to get P2.
Toto Wolff explains the breakthrough came during Saturday’s third free practice session.
“We were just experimenting in FP3,” the Austrian said.
“And I must really say that the job that has been done back in Brackley and in Brixworth and then the engineers here really designing a program, which we went through line by line by line, some experiments useful, others not.
“And at the end, we had so many more answers to our questions, and then a car that was good.
“It’s all interlinked, there is not one single thing, it’s about the aero balance, deciding about the right amount of downforce, temperatures in the tyre, and then obviously the balance.”
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Unfortunately Valtteri Bottas didn’t manage to find the same level of performance as Lewis and qualified only in P10. Wolff explains the difference in performance was due to each driver choosing different wing configurations.
“We debated it and we have a lower downforce configuration and the higher one. Valtteri opted for the higher downforce configuration and Lewis for the lower, but there’s not a lot in it.”
In Q3 Hamilton produced his best time after coming out on the track behind Bottas, obviously to benefit from a tow. When the media suggested Mercedes “sacrificed” the Finn to help Lewis, Wolff categorically denied it.
“Since the beginning of the joint journey [with] Valtteri and Lewis, we have tossed a coin who would have the choice to decide if they were running first or second.
“This weekend it was Lewis’ turn to choose if he ran first or second on the road. He chose second obviously. So this is the same system.
“It alternates from race to race between the drivers,” concluded the Austrian.