Mercedes and its 'diva' W08
http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/3539 ... -diva-w08/
Only at the quirky and typically unpredictable Albert Park circuit have Hamilton and Bottas been relatively close to each other.
It has been noted that Hamilton's greatest struggles have come at circuits where the purple-banded Ultra Soft tyre has been used; in Australia he was rear-limited, triggering an earlier stop, allowing Ferrari to profit from the overcut, while in Russia and Monaco he was simply off the pace, unable to exploit the available grip. Hamilton's greatest pace in Monaco, comparative to rivals, came in the initial laps after switching to the Super Soft tyres.
"It's the most unusual way the car has felt in all the years I've been with the team," said Hamilton.
"We've got some seriously strong races for me; some tracks I'm generally strong at, but the issues with tyres is a bit unknown, and the next race I believe is the same tyres. It's only the Ultra Soft that has been an issue, so that's really what we'll try and understand with the team this week.
"There's so many different things we need to look into to understand why one car could make it work and one couldn't. [Maybe Bottas conducted] multiple [warm-up] laps, whether he was backing off, using the fronts more than the rears maybe, a more understeering car, oversteering car, brake balance, we need to look at these different things…"
Bottas, who suggested Hamilton struggled to find a rhythm and that small issues gradually spiralled, qualified third and raced to fourth, having been overhauled by the late-stopping Daniel Ricciardo, and battled overheating brakes at stages.
The Finn also pointed to tyre difficulties as a reason for Mercedes' lack of pace.
"We are struggling with the car [to get it] nicely balanced, especially in the very slow speed corners, struggling with the rear stability," he commented.
"When the rear is unstable you are not putting energy through the fronts either, because the fronts are just sliding. When the rear is stable the fronts are understeering slightly and it puts more temperatures through the fronts, and when you can carry more speed through the corners you just gain energy and temperature in the tyres.
"For some reason Ferrari seems to have both of their axels, front and rear, always working, [but] for us it's not really coming together, both at the same time or not all the time in the correct window, and we need to do a better job on that."
But, even accounting for a likely Vettel grid drop, the next few events will be a crucial phase of the season, and Hamilton is wary of his predicament.
"The Ferrari seems to work everywhere, so the next 14 races are going to be very, very difficult," he said.
"They have had arguably the strongest car all year, a little bit like our car last year, which just worked everywhere, but this car is not working at every single place we go to. But the more races we do, the more we learn and the stronger we get."
If Mercedes, and Hamilton, cannot apply consistency to the speed witnessed in China and Spain, the title may be lost before Formula 1's summer break…