Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says they have a “problem” after describing Lewis Hamilton’s W11 as being “all over the place” in Austria.
Valtteri Bottas, whilst not enjoying the kind of performance he had during Round 1 at the Red Bull Ring, was able to end FP2 for the second race weekend at the circuit in P2, 0.043s down on Max Verstappen.
But Hamilton was the surprise of the session, finishing all the way down in P6, 0.6s adrift of Bottas.
It was a strange session with drivers trying to pump in flying laps due to the chance of FP2 forming the grid for Sunday if qualifying can’t happen due to the forecasted heavy rain.
And even though Wolff said Hamilton’s programme was neither the usual FP2 one or qualifying, he said there is a “problem” with the car because it was “all over the place”.
“We discussed it for a long time, but in the end we went into the session a bit half pregnant,” Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
“Not using the full power, but also not cruising very slowly.
“It wasn’t full attack, but it wasn’t half attack either – we already added a little bit more.
“Let’s say, we drove on a performance level that we normally don’t drive on Friday.
“We are a bit in the dark, especially with Lewis’ time. There’s a problem with the car.
“At the moment we don’t know. The car is just all over the place in the slow and medium fast corners.
“But we have data channels for everything, and you have to take your time to look at that.”
VB and Lewis end Friday in Spielberg in P2 and P6 – there’s work to do tonight, Team ? #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/V3h2ARYpJo
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 10, 2020
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It would hardly be a surprise to see Mercedes turn up the engines for qualifying, but when asked what the team had left up their sleeves, Wolff was either not confident, or bluffing.
“Not so much anymore. Compared to last week, Verstappen has improved, and especially the Racing Points have really improved,” he said.
“Everyone else is slower, just like us. But there is a lot of thinking and data to collect to see where the performance is.”
Hamilton described the W11 as feeling “relatively normal but it was quite far off”.
He also said that he “was feeling good in practice one and the start of [second practice]. Then it started to drop off”.
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