Mercedes failed to make the top 10 in FP2 at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton revealing that he and George Russell are at opposite ends of the scale on set-up and neither confident in their approach.
Mercedes are looking to bounce back from a shock halt to their recent momentum in Austria, where Ferrari emerged as the closest, yet still rather distant challenger to Red Bull, while Mercedes were forced to settle for a P7 and P8 result.
The eight-time Constructors’ champs already had an eye on the British GP at Silverstone as they prepared to introduce the next upgrade package for the W14, which proved to be a new front wing, but there remains a great deal of work to be done.
Lewis Hamilton claims one-lap pace shows Mercedes something is wrong
Friday practice at Silverstone did little to convince Mercedes that a return to their strong showings like those seen in Spain and Canada is on the cards, neither Hamilton nor team-mate Russell featuring in the top 10 come the end of FP2.
Hamilton said he did not feel any improvement when moving up through the Pirelli tyre compounds, a glaring sign that Mercedes are “missing something”, though their long-run pace did seem to offer a rare positive.
“Car wise, I mean, we’re battling the same thing the majority of the time,” Hamilton told the media after FP2.
“It’s a tough car to drive and no matter what we do to set-up, it continues to be a tough car to drive.
“I think on a single lap, I didn’t feel any improvement between tyres, which shows us something is wrong, we’re missing something. And then on the long run it didn’t seem to be too bad, so that’s the positive at least.”
It was then pointed out to Hamilton that Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who finished FP2 only 0.02s down on pacesetter Max Verstappen, had reacted with “that is fast” when informed of Hamilton’s time on the soft compound during the race simulations.
Hamilton though did not feel like his pace was anything special, while also pointing out the huge shifts in balance across a lap of the Silverstone track.
“It didn’t feel particularly great, if I’m really honest, but it must have felt worse for others because they potentially weren’t as quick or I don’t know, had more deg,” said Hamilton in response to that Sainz observation.
“The last part of my run was starting to be more consistent, for whatever reason, it could be wind, it could be just balance or me getting used to the balance.
“And this track is really about trying to weigh the scales the whole way around and making compromises here and there. There’s such a fine edge on the balance and such a big balance window, it’s back and forth, it’s never just like here and you can just drive it, it’s like one end to the other end of the spectrum, from braking, to turn in, to mid, to exit of every corner, so it’s a good battle.”
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at odds on set-up
Hamilton alarmingly responded with a firm “no” when asked if he has any ideas on how to narrow that window of balance for the W14 heading into Saturday, while also revealing that he and Russell were trying configurations at opposite ends of the scale.
And it seems neither were happy with what they had, a concern considering both had then planned on gravitating towards what the other was doing.
“Me and George were just talking about it, he’s one way, he’s like over here with his set-up, I’m over here, and he was like ‘I’m thinking of coming to where you are but then your lap times are slower’, and I’m thinking ‘I was going to come to where you are,'” Hamilton explained.
“But, I think as I said, it’s a balance. We’ll try and work on it tonight and Mick [Schumacher] will do some work in the sim tonight. So hopefully we’ll come up with something tomorrow.”
If Hamilton was to somehow pull off a ninth Silverstone victory come Sunday, then it would set a new record for most wins at a specific F1 circuit.