“Something fundamentally wrong” with Mercedes – Bottas

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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After two frustrating practice sessions, Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes’ pace at Baku shows they have a serious problem.

Bottas finished this morning’s first practice ninth fastest, with team mate Lewis Hamilton seventh. The pair slipped further down the other in second practice, neither reaching the top 10, with Hamilton 11th and Bottas only 16th.

Bottas said his car felt “slightly better, maybe, in the long run but still we’re lacking pace and that’s for sure.”

“So I think there’s something fundamentally wrong and we need to figure out what,” he added.

He admitted the team face “a long night tonight” in engineering meetings to work out why they were over a second per lap slower than the Red Bulls.

Mercedes arrived in Azerbaijan hoping to rebound from a difficult weekend in Monaco. But Bottas said Baku had, so far, gone worse than they had anticipated.

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“It was tougher, yes. Monaco wasn’t easy, but, at least we were more or less there by the time of qualifying and now we seem quite a bit off.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Pictures: Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice day one
“So it’s been, definitely, a more challenging day than we anticipated and we need to find out exactly why.”

Bottas said he couldn’t work out yet what was causing the lack of grip. “Not yet, but we’ll find out.

“Honestly, the main thing is the lack of grip and for that there can be many reasons. So at the moment, I don’t know. Not an easy day. And a lot of work to do.”

“It feels like it’s just overall grip, the balance is not that far off,” he added. “Okay, the car is maybe a bit unpredictable, but it just feels like it’s lacking grip and sliding around.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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14 comments on ““Something fundamentally wrong” with Mercedes – Bottas”

  1. May be forgot to remove a couple of sandbags? 😜

  2. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    4th June 2021, 16:42

    Meanwhile on Saturday: “Yeah we put in long hours and we have the best team ever” after scoring a front row.

    They’ve cried wolf(f) too many times. I’m not buying it. Not now, not ever this season. And neither should anyone.

    1. You said it … smoke n mirrors. “OK.we tweaked the rebound on the left front corner. Alled gut!” Or some such …

    2. Not only that: I suspect them to sandbag to help the FIA make a decision on the bendy-wing situation in their favour
      I predict their car will be cured the moment the FIA agrees to clip Red-bull’s wings, or, at the latest when the window to win the championships is closing too much.
      I bet they’re calling the FIA, behind the scenes, and threaten them with a boring season, where Redbull cruises to victory.

      1. No worries of that, go watch today’s practice, Red Bull had no visible deflection in rear wings on long straights. They toughen it up already, no harm on their times either. Front wing deflections on Ferrari were huge, where even Mercs fail. I don’t believe they are far behind either, in P1, Lewis was very strong until yellows ruined his times, but he was right there. Lewis will continue to whine I’m sure, but why; he himself said he wanted competition. Then bendy wings become Merc’s new mantra once they feel some heat. Not a great look from the 7 time double champions. And way to go Ferrari, starting to look like they belong again.

      2. True, certainly suspicious.

    3. I don’t think Mercedes were sand bagging today. Toto was expected to do an interview with Sky after the practice, but, refused and instead headed to speak with Hamilton and Bottas.

      I am really starting to think, for the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes are starting to struggle.

  3. As all the Mercedes are running new engines, Its very likely those new engines have limiters to help run them in, although im not sure running in new engines applies to F1.

    1. Not sure if they already fitted them for Friday.

  4. Yeah, if they keep running with those sandbags, it looks to be a tough weekend for them.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    4th June 2021, 19:51

    Yeah I don’t buy it. At least one or both Mercedes will be in the top three, both in the top five at least.

  6. An element of sandbagging maybe.
    However even F1 new engines need to be bedded in properly.
    So highly unlikely that we’ve seen the full throttle mode yet this weekend.

  7. Sergey Martyn
    5th June 2021, 8:06

    What is fundamentally wrong in Mercedes is their constant cheating.

    1. Remember the dual axis steering?

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