After controlling the first three grands prix of the 2020 F1season, Mercedes was affected by slight balance issues on the opening day for the British Grand Prix.
The opening triple-header of the season saw Mercedes winning every qualifying session and race with an enormous margin over the rest of the field. The reigning champion team leads the Constructors’ Championship with 121 points, 65 points clear of the second-placed Red Bull Racing. The team was expected to carry over its dominant form to Silverstone, a track where Mercedes has always excelled, but the opening day showed the Brackley-based outfit needs to fine-tune the setup of their cars ahead of the rest of the weekend.
After finishing third in the afternoon’s session, Valtteri Bottas has revealed that he has been left with mixed feeling as the W11’s balance still needs to be adjusted ahead of the qualifying session.
"The car is feeling good out there, the first session was a bit trickier balance wise, but the feeling wasn't too bad during the second session. But the gaps are quite small, with both Racing Point and Red Bull looking strong. So, we obviously have some work to do. Normally we are able to make some good steps for qualifying, so I'm optimistic that we can make some progress overnight.
The nice and sunny weather that characterized Friday’s running is expected to turn into colder conditions on Saturday and Sunday with the possibility of rain being also relatively high for the qualifying session. Bottas, therefore, thinks the most important thing will be to adopt quickly to the changing conditions.
„Conditions are going to be completely different for the rest of the weekend with lower track temperatures and a change in wind direction. That normally has quite a big effect on this track and it's going to be about who can react to those changes the quickest. We'll get to work tonight and see how much more performance we can squeeze out of the car, and hopefully it's going to be enough."
Lewis Hamilton ended the day fifth-fastest which showed a different picture from what the team experienced in Hungary just two weeks ago. However, the sector times indicated that Mercedes massively turned down its engines during their qualifying simulation runs and that theory was backed by the team’s supreme performance on high-fuel.
The reigning champion complained about the balance of his car, but insisted he is sure that Mercedes can make improvements to the W11 overnight.
"It was quite a difficult day to be honest. The balance didn't feel quite right, and the wind made things really tricky out there today. So, we're going to work on it tonight and try to figure out why I haven't been feeling as comfortable as I would like.
„It's been a hard day of driving, but it's not a disaster and what's so great about this team is we continue to dive deep into the details - hopefully we'll make some good changes overnight. It's going to be cooler tomorrow and the Red Bull and Racing Points look strong, so hopefully it'll be close out there,” the Briton added.