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Mercedes: Tyre degradation our biggest concern

Mercedes: Tyre degradation our biggest concern

Mercedes: Tyre degradation our biggest concern
Mercedes seemed to be in decent form on Friday in Abu Dhabi, but their Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin revealed concern regarding the team’s tyre degradation.

The eight-time Formula 1 Constructors’ Champions lead the proceedings during FP1 on Friday as Lewis Hamilton was fastest, George Russell behind him in second.

In FP2, however, Hamilton dropped to fourth, while Russell remained second fastest behind Max Verstappen, the fastest in the second practice.

Moreover, the long runs in FP2 showed that Mercedes may have an issue with tyre degradation, despite being better than Ferrari, they are missing quite a lot to Red Bull.

Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director reflected on Friday; he said: “It’s been a busy day. We had quite a few test items squeezed into the first session, which meant we didn’t have quite the normal focus on race preparation.

“That work shifted to the afternoon session and whilst we had a straightforward time in terms of reliability, we’re lacking a little pace both single lap and long run.

“Unusually, the degradation looked higher than for our competitors,” Shovlin pointed out, “so we’ll dig into that to work out what is causing it; that’s our biggest concern right now.

“Clearly a bit to do, but the gaps don’t look massive so hopefully we can put ourselves in contention if we can find a few small steps in the right direction,” the Mercedes engineer concluded.

Russell hope to fight for top three in qualifying

George Russell, second fastest all day was encouraged by his Friday, but admitted Red Bull have the advantage echoing what Shovlin said on the long runs.

“We had a very strong day in terms of what we’ve learned, given this is one of the last opportunities to gain learnings for the next season,” Russell said.

“With the test items that we ran during FP1, especially on my side of the garage, I’m looking forward to 2023 with what we’ve learned today,” he admitted.

“For FP2, the track changed completely with the temperature drop. The car felt fast, but I think Red Bull are ahead of us in terms of single lap pace and maybe even more so in the long runs. So, we have some work to do overnight, but compared to Ferrari our performance from what we can tell so far looks reasonable for this weekend.

But Russell predicts a strong qualifying for Mercedes; he claimed: “I’d like to think we’ll be able to fight for the top 3 in qualifying tomorrow and see where that can take us on Sunday.

“We will keep our heads down and put in the work overnight,” the winner of last week’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix concluded.

Hamilton: Tyre management for qualifying will be tough

Hamilton’s day was mixed, fastest in FP1, but struggling a bit in FP2 after some setup changes; he reflected: “FP1 felt good today, which is a positive outlook for next year.

“In FP2, the car balance was a bit off, following some set-up changes between the sessions, so we will need to make some updates overnight but otherwise, we’re relatively competitive.

“Tyre management for qualifying tomorrow will be tough, in FP1 you could do a slow run to get the tyres working and in FP2 it took much longer to get them in the right window, so it’s a little bit like rolling a dice,” the Briton admitted.

“We hope we can be competitive with our race pace this weekend, but still need to understand better where we are compared to the other teams. We will work hard overnight and hopefully we can be in the fight for the front.

“A big thank you to everyone in the factory and here at the track who have put in so much dedication and hard work to throughout the year,” Hamilton concluded.