Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said that the drivers are still struggling with confidence in the car, despite George Russell leading a 1-2 for the team in first practice at the Miami GP.
Russell surged to the top of the timing charts with one of the last laps of the session, beating out teammate Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second despite starting the running with steering rack issues.
Those issues caused Russell to come back into the garage after just five minutes had elapsed in the session, with limited running in later stages.
While Wolff admitted that Mercedes had benefitted from the slippy new surface in Miami improving over the course of the hour with their late laps to beat out Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, he added that the car had proven difficult to tame.
“It’s just very tricky to unlock its best from a setup point of view and also driving it. The driver has to have confidence that a person can have confidence the car can go quick,” he told media after the session.
“But it’s on a razor’s edge and when we go a little bit beyond it then the case is really difficult is unpredictable, steps out of braking. I mean, it does the whole thing.
“And this morning we seem to be in a sweet spot of the car, though. I don’t think that you can extrapolate (much) from this result, we ran late and then everybody else. But at least it looks more encouraging than then back.”
Able to push
Wolff said that Mercedes had struggled across the year with predictability, an issue both Russell and Hamilton have raised at different points of the season.
Despite that, he believes the car remains driveable and capable of being raced on the limit.
“I think the car is a car that the drivers are able to push and feel that it doesn’t do anything unpredictable,” he said.
“And unfortunately, we’ve had that over the last year and this year that particularly in qualifying where you really need to push the limits that the drivers couldn’t find any confidence in a car.”