Following a promising Saturday, Mercedes suffered a dismal Sunday in the Bahrain Grand Prix, where severe tyre wear demoted Pole sitter, Nico Rosberg, down into a lonely P9. The scorching 42 degree track temperatures, meant that thermal degradation forced the disadvantaged W04 into a four stop strategy. Evidently, Mercedes have a significant issue and Hamilton claims that the team are “holding on” to the leading pack at the moment.
Lewis Hamilton pulled off a miraculous rise from a penalty prompted P9, to P5. It was a fantastic race, where Lewis had to adjust his pace to optimize his speed despite his compromised strategy. It was a quiet yet solid drive, undoubtedly abetted by the failures experienced by Ferrari. Consequently, Hamilton maintains his strong position in the championship, but he requires his team to develop the car in order to sustain pace.
The excessive tyre usage has cursed Mercedes since 2011. Last season, they typically had to make an extra stop compared to their opposition, which would demote them several places in the final few laps. While they have cured many issues which plagued the W03, Hamilton still yearns for progress and has given the team an incentive with his performances so far. Hamilton said: “I feel like we’re holding on by the skin of our teeth. The guys at the factory need to keep pushing because we’re not that far off and if we can just make that next step we can close the gap with them.”
Mercedes-Benz owners will be looking for a serious improvement upon their 2012 performances. They made their intentions clear during a busy winter, where they signed a host of high profile names, searching for the perfect team. While they will inevitably have one eye on what could be a prosperous 2014, this season is essential to silence the critics and cure fundamental flaws. However, Hamilton’s consistency may place the team in an awkward position, with a Championship Title up for grabs. In this scenario, they will inevitably have conflicting interests.
Hamilton’s presence may encourage them to pursue 2013 glory. Ross Brawn analysed the team’s struggles in Bahrain, suggesting that they will hunt for an issue to the degradation woes. “We struggled badly in the early part of the race when the track temperatures were at their highest,” Brawn analysed. “This is an issue we have to address and we will continue working on solutions to improve our performance in this area. In the second half of the race, as the track temperatures cooled somewhat, our pace was not bad – particularly with Lewis. Lewis and Nico did as good a job as possible with the car we had this afternoon but it was a case of damage limitation for both of them.”
If Mercedes are to mount a championship challenge, they need to fix the issues with regards to rear degradation. If they fail to develop the cure their tyre woes, they will inevitably struggle at each and every event with high ambient temperatures. Hamilton is a consistent driver, yet there is only so much he can do when he is ill equipt with a car filled with inconsistencies. Consequently, his statement today is somewhat of a war cry which will reverberate around the Brackley base.