Friday in Malaysia was an intriguing affair, with many predictions being cemented and surprise pace from a number of teams. Mercedes had a predictably excellent day, with Lewis Hamilton topping FP1 and Nico Rosberg taking over at the top in FP2. Pace confirmed by the Brackley based outfit and while they seem to be on the wrong side of marginal in terms of tyre wear, they are still overwhelming favourites for this weekend. Alternatively, a number of teams realised that this weekend could be far from a smooth affair. McLaren were one team in particular who suffered a concerning day, as their pace seems to have dropped in relation to their rivals. Perhaps the new nose does not only have negative attributes from an aesthetic perspective.
Tyre Concerns For Merc
After Nico Rosberg’s rampant victory in Australia, Mercedes were the overwhelming favourites heading into this weekend and still are. However, their double appearance at the top of the timesheets today does not totally reflect their day – It was far from perfect. Short run pace was decidedly fast, but across the long runs, the W05 demonstrated unfavourably high levels of tyre wear, which threatens to cause the strategists headaches in the race. They will undoubtedly hope to break away from their rivals in the early phase of the race and build a lead which means that they can be comfortable and flexible in regards to tyre saving methods and perhaps even build enough of a gap to make a free pit-stop.
“The conditions are very tough and we didn’t expect such massive degradation,” admitted Rosberg to Sky Sports News. “It’s a big challenge. There will be lots of different strategies and anything could happen. Fuel strategy shouldn’t be a challenge, we’re just focused on the tyres.” Tyre issues or otherwise, Merc are in great shape and most teams would be more than happy to borrow their car for the weekend.
More to Follow…