Mercedes faces “big decisions” after Lewis Hamilton fights in training at the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan, says Damon Hill

Lewis Hamilton found it difficult to train in Baku on Friday, as Mercedes again overtook the pace set by Red Bull and Ferrari; watch the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan live on Sky Sports throughout the weekend, with the competition starting on Sunday at 12 o’clock

Last updated: 10/06/22 22:36

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Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car suffered more serious problems during Friday’s training in Azerbaijan

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car suffered more serious problems during Friday’s training in Azerbaijan

Mercedes is facing “big decisions” and must find its way after a disappointing performance in the practice of the GP of Azerbaijan, according to former world champion Damon Hill.

Lewis Hamilton endured a difficult first day on the track in Baku, coping with significant rebounds and running a tuning experiment in the Second Training, which failed.

After finishing more than a second less than Sergio Perez’s lead time in P1, Hamilton was even further from the pace in the second session, finishing 1.6 seconds behind Charles Leclerc in 12th place and his teammate George Russell was only 0.3 seconds better in the seventh.

Hamilton, who have failed to secure a podium since the start of the season, are already 75 points behind world championship leader Max Verstappen.

“I will manage. It hurts a little, “said the seven-time world champion. “Here we reach serious speeds at the end and it jumps a lot.

See how Hamilton's car bounces on the track during the initial workout

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See how Hamilton’s car bounces on the track during the initial workout

See how Hamilton’s car bounces on the track during the initial workout

“I just can’t tell you where (we’re losing) 1.6 seconds, 1.3 seconds or whatever, that’s a long way off.”

After an extremely disappointing start to the season under entirely new Formula One design rules, Mercedes seems to have turned the corner in an improved display in Barcelona last month, but then gave way to Monaco a week later.

The recent fights of the Silver Arrows have led Hill to express concerns about the direction of the team by the end of the season, as their hopes for the ninth consecutive title of constructors already looked extremely bleak.

“They seem to be trying everything they can think of if you hear Lewis say he’s tried another experimental setup again, without much success,” Hill told Sky Sports F1.

Hamilton struggled in Baku on Friday

Hamilton struggled in Baku on Friday

“This is where you start walking, have we fundamentally made a mistake somewhere with our concept? Then it’s a little more of a headache because you can’t just do it with upgrades, it’s hard to do it with upgrades.

“They said they felt they had a direction in Spain, but it was lost again.

“They have to ask some big questions and make some big decisions, I think.

Schiff: Really disappointing for Mercedes

Sky Sports F1Naomi Schiff explained how Hamilton’s jump on Friday will make it difficult for him to perform at a high level.

“It’s awkward,” Schiff said. “Fortunately, I didn’t really have to deal with it, but apparently all the comments say that the drivers are suffering, and you saw it from Lewis, his back hurts.

“It’s not great visibility either. It’s more frustrating, because I think at this point they really want to step away from this problem and start focusing on their true overall attitude.

“I think this is the bigger problem, they have not been able to solve it and there is a supposed potential in the car, and it has not been released yet.”

George Russell admits that Mercedes still has no pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after training on Friday at Baku City Circuit

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George Russell admits that Mercedes still has no pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after training on Friday at Baku City Circuit

George Russell admits that Mercedes still has no pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after training on Friday at Baku City Circuit

The unpredictability of the high-speed street track in Baku will leave Mercedes hoping to make a name for itself over the weekend, with five races on the track yielding five different players and five different winners.

However, Russell acknowledged that hopes of competing with the dominant teams this season – Red Bull and Ferrari – are slim.

“It simply came to our notice then [Red Bull and Ferrari] we just have an inherently faster car than us and we did our best to catch up, “Russell said.

“If we are completely on top of our tires, we will not close this gap completely, they are just too far ahead. So, this [tyres] it’s probably 50 percent of our problem, the rest is just the lack of productivity we have right now. “

Despite another disappointing Friday, Hill says not all is lost to Mercedes, but insists the goal of Toto Wolf’s team must be understood soon.

“One season is never a write-off,” he added. “You have a lot of races ahead of you and still a lot of time, but they have to find a direction.”

The full schedule of Sky Sports F1

Saturday

10:20 a.m.: F2 sprint
11:45 a.m.: Third exercise
14:00: Qualification

Sunday

8:30 a.m.: F2 Feature Race
10:30 a.m.: Grand Prix Sunday: Azerbaijan
12 pm: GRAND PRIZE OF AZERBAIJAN
14:00: Checkered flag: Azerbaijan
15:30: Highlights from the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan

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