Hamilton ‘a bit sore’ as Russell reveals what’s accounting for 50% of Mercedes’ pace deficit

Mercedes endured another tough day at the office during the first two practice sessions at the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Sir Lewis Hamilton confirmed after practice in Azerbaijan that the Mercedes are struggling with bouncing on the straights.

Hamilton ended FP1 in sixth, before finishing P12 in the second session, indicative that Mercedes were experimenting with some slightly different setups on Friday.

Due to the wind, the slightly bumpy track surface, and the temperamental nature of the Mercedes chassis, the Silver Arrows and the Ferraris were bouncing rather vigorously down the home straight, and even the Red Bulls were suffering with heavy turbulence on their lightweight rear wings.

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“I’ll get by. I’m a bit sore,” explained Hamilton, quoted by Sky Sports. 

“We’re hitting some serious speeds at the end here and it’s bouncing a lot.

“I just can’t really tell you where [we are losing] 1.6 seconds,1.3 seconds or whatever it is, that’s a long way away.”

Team-mate George Russell ended both sessions in the top 10 as he clocked 50 laps over the course of the opening two sessions, but Mercedes’ quickest times on Friday were an average of 1.3 seconds adrift of the pace set by Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso also impressed by finishing fifth and fourth on Friday, so just as it was perceived that Mercedes might be escaping the midfield and getting closer to Red Bull and Ferrari, the inconsistencies of the W13 have crept up again.

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Russell laments the fact that, currently, his team are just “too far” behind the leaders.

“At the moment, they [Red Bull and Ferrari] just have inherently a faster car than us and we’ve done everything we can to catch up,” he added.

“If we’re totally on top of our tyres we’re not going to fully close that gap, they’re just too far ahead so that is probably 50 per cent of our issue.

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“The rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment.”

Russell and Hamilton are aiming to get both cars on the podium for the first time this season in Baku this weekend but, from Friday’s results, this might be an onerous task.