Lewis Hamilton has said Mercedes struggled to get on top of their car in qualifying for the Azerbaijan GP, despite the Brit set to start in fifth on the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.
Hamilton struggled with brake issues throughout the Friday practice and qualifying sessions, and his teammate George Russell missed out on Q3 and will begin the race in Baku from 11th.
The seven-time champion said that the team was pushing to catch the Ferrari and Red Bull cars out in front, but that he wasn’t able to string together a lap at the right time.
“We’re trying as hard as we can giving absolutely everything out there, and just with timing and getting into rhythm and really putting out everything is not easy on this track. I think in Q2, yeah we struggled,” Hamilton told reporters after the session.
“There was definitely more pace, I just didn’t get that last lap. My Q run was a really sweet, sweet lap, unfortunately just matched it basically at the end. But I needed just a little bit more time just says to nip a Ferrari.”
However, Hamilton added that the team wasn’t yet in the place it wants to be, and that he was hopeful coming upgrades could close the gap to the front of the pack.
“Naturally, no, this is not the position we want as a team. We exist to win.
“But everyone has that winning mindset and everyone’s working as hard as they can. So we haven’t had an upgrade this weekend.
“We’re working towards one that will hopefully put us a little bit closer to the battle ahead.
Straight line deficit
The Mercedes car struggled compared to its peers for straight line pace down on this low-drag street circuit in Baku, and Hamilton said he was surprised by the deficit to the Red Bull in particular.
“I didn’t really know what to expect this week and I knew that the Red Bulls would be particularly fast, I didn’t realise we would have such a huge deficit on the straights. But it’s a good indicator,” he said.
“We’re slower on the straights and then slower in the middle sector, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to rectify that in the car.
“It’s The easiest one to drive. I’m happy to be on the third row and I think hopefully tomorrow we can have a bit of a better battle.”