Mercedes: Rivals "too quick" after "serious" Friday gains

Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have acknowledged their rivals at Ferrari and Red Bull appear "too quick" at the Sochi Autodrom after making "serious" gains over Friday practice.

Mercedes: Rivals "too quick" after "serious" Friday gains

Mercedes is unbeaten in the Russian Grand Prix since it joined the calendar in 2014, but Hamilton and Bottas ended Friday’s running at Sochi significantly off both Red Bull’s pace-setter Max Verstappen and the lead Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

“It started off not too bad and it just didn’t really improve as the others made some big progressions,” Hamilton explained.

“We’re losing eight tenths of a second or something to the Ferrari on the straights. But nonetheless we’ve been improving, but they’ve been improving at a serious rate.”

“Always good fun on this track,” Sochi specialist Bottas said. “Just, Red Bull, Ferrari a bit too quick today.”

Read Also:

Hamilton said it was the “million-dollar question” whether Mercedes could make enough of a step to take the fight to its rivals on Saturday.

“Naturally I believe in my guys,” he said. “I don't think we’re getting the maximum out of the car and that’s probably been the key issue we’ve had for the last three races, so we’re still trying to discover it.

“It's good to see the competition doing so well but I want to be in the fight with them and that’s what we're working towards.”

Both he and Bottas however admitted they would welcome the possibility of rain on Saturday, with the Finn suggesting it would offer Mercedes the best chance to be in the pole battle.

Verstappen, who had set the pace by three tenths over Leclerc, said his Friday pace had been encouraging, “especially after our difficult weekend in Singapore”.

“It was a bit of a weird weekend in Singapore, what went wrong. So we came here and the car’s working really well, especially the last sector has been very good.

“But even the first one, you have a long straight, Turn 3 is flat out so is basically also a straight, and we are still very competitive.

“So it was a positive day, we tried quite a few things with the car and it seemed to work.”

Verstappen faces a five-place grid penalty for Sunday after having taken on a new-spec Honda internal combustion engine, but said this was “not too disappointing” even in light of his strong Friday showing.

“If you are quick you can still pass some people,” he said. “It’s always difficult to judge to take a penalty. If I would have thought Singapore would have been that difficult, you might have taken the penalty there.

“I’m not too disappointed. You can overtake around here and if you’re fast you can get to the front."

shares
comments
McLaren poised for Mercedes engine switch in 2021

Previous article

McLaren poised for Mercedes engine switch in 2021

Next article

Kvyat says helmet design limit "a joke"

Kvyat says helmet design limit "a joke"
Load comments
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future Prime

Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Prime

How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbon fibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021