Mercedes is facing “big decisions” after Lewis Hamilton struggles in free practice for the Azerbaijani GP, says Damon Hill

Lewis Hamilton struggled in free practice on Friday in Baku as Mercedes was once again out of the pace set by Red Bull and Ferrari; Watch the Azerbaijani Grand Prix live on Sky Sports throughout the weekend, with Sunday’s race starting at 12:00

Last updated: 06/10/22 22:36

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Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car suffered the most problems during Friday’s free practice sessions in Azerbaijan

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car suffered the most problems during Friday’s free practice sessions in Azerbaijan

Mercedes are facing “big decisions” and must find their way after a disappointing Azerbaijani GP free practice performance, according to former world champion Damon Hill.

Lewis Hamilton faced a difficult first day on track in Baku, facing significant rebounds and managing a setup experiment in practice 2 that failed to break away.

After finishing more than a second off Sergio Perez’s P1 lead, Hamilton was even further off the pace in the second session, finishing 1.6 seconds behind Charles Leclerc in 12th place, with teammate George Russell just 0. , 3 seconds better in seventh place.

Hamilton, who has failed to secure a podium since the opening race of the season, is already 75 points behind world championship leader Max Verstappen.

“I’ll be fine. I’m a little sore,” said the seven-time world champion. “We are reaching some important speeds at the end here and he is bouncing a lot.

See how Hamilton's car bounced around the track during the free practice session

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See how Hamilton’s car bounced around the track during the free practice session

See how Hamilton’s car bounced around the track during the free practice session

“I just can’t tell you where (we’re losing) 1.6 seconds, 1.3 seconds or whatever it is, it’s a long way off.”

After an extremely disappointing start to the season under the brand new F1 design regulations, Mercedes seemed to have taken a turn in an improved display in Barcelona last month, but then regressed to Monaco a week later.

The final struggles of the Silver Arrows have led Hill to voice concerns about the team’s direction for the remainder of the season, with their hopes for a ninth consecutive constructors’ title already extremely bleak.

“It looks like they are trying everything they can think of, if you listen to Lewis saying he tried yet another experimental setup, without much success,” Hill said on Sky Sport F1.

Hamilton struggled in Baku on Friday

Hamilton struggled in Baku on Friday

“This is where you start to go, we basically got it wrong somewhere with our concept? So, that’s a bit more of a headache because you can’t do that with updates alone, it’s hard to do with updates.

“They said they felt like they had direction in Spain, but it was lost again.

“They need to ask themselves big questions and make big decisions, I think.”

Schiff: Really frustrating for Mercedes

Sky Sport F1Naomi Schiff explained how Hamilton’s rebound on Friday will make it difficult for him to perform at a high level.

“It’s uncomfortable,” Schiff said. “Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with it, but clearly all the comments say the riders are in pain, and you saw it from Lewis, his back hurts.

“Also for the visibility, it’s not great. It’s more frustrating because I think at this point they really want to get away from this problem and start focusing on their true general set-up.

“I think this is the biggest problem, they have not been able to solve it and there is a presumed potential in the car, and it has not yet been released.”

George Russell admits Mercedes still lacks pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after Friday's free practice at Baku City Circuit

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George Russell admits Mercedes still lacks pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after Friday’s free practice at Baku City Circuit

George Russell admits Mercedes still lacks pace compared to Red Bull and Ferrari after Friday’s free practice at Baku City Circuit

The unpredictability of Baku’s high-speed street circuit will leave Mercedes hoping to gain ground over the weekend, with five track races producing five different pole sitters and five different winners.

However, Russell admitted that the hopes of competing with the dominant teams this season – Red Bull and Ferrari – are slim.

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

“If we are totally above our tires we are not going to completely close that gap, they are just too far ahead. So, that [tyres] it’s probably 50% of our problem, the rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment. “

Despite another disappointing Friday, Hill says all is not lost for Mercedes, but insists a clarity of purpose must come soon for Toto Wolff’s team.

“A season is never a cancellation,” he added. “There are a lot of races coming up and still a lot of time, but they have to find a direction.”

The complete Sky Sports F1 program

Saturday

10:20: Sprint F2
11:45 am: Practice Three
14: Qualifications

Sunday

8:30 am: F2 Feature Race
10:30 am: Grand Prix Sunday: Azerbaijan
12:00 pm: THE AZERBAIGIAN GRAND PRIX
14: Checkered flag: Azerbaijan
15:30: Highlights of the Azerbaijani GP

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