Mercedes ‘just slow’ in Baku – Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says he is driving well but that Mercedes is simply not on the pace so far following Friday practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull topped both practice sessions today, with Max Verstappen quickest in FP1 before Sergio Perez led a Red Bull one-two in the afternoon. Hamilton was down in seventh in the opening session and then dropped out of the top 10 in FP2, and despite more encouraging long-run pace he says the car just doesn’t seem to be quick enough in general in Baku.

“Honestly, I generally had a really good day,” Hamilton said. “I felt it was clean, I got all the laps we needed, was not really any mistakes — I had one lock-up in FP1 — but just slow!

“We’re definitely quite a chunk down and I think everyone will be scratching their heads trying to figure out, and looking into the data, how we can improve. The long run was better, but yeah.

“It didn’t feel good in this (second) session — just in general I was pushing. I was on the limit, but the car is limited. There’s areas that I should just be quicker but there’s no more grip. We’ll work at it. It’s not easy to be out of the top 10 in pace when we’ve had pace in other places but yeah, I don’t really know we’re why where we are.”

The seven-time world champion is unsure Mercedes has learned much from its Monaco Grand Prix struggles, where his team went in the wrong direction following practice.

“I think it’s impossible to say at the moment,” he admitted. “Pace-wise we’ve not gone anywhere forward — if anything today it looks like we’ve gone backwards but I don’t really know; we’ll wait and see.”