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Mercedes suffers one of its worst Fridays

NEWS STORY
29/09/2017

Though Lady Luck may have looked favourably on Mercedes in Singapore, she appears to have abandoned the German team in Malaysia.

The Silver Arrows were expected to struggle in the city state, but a bravura performance by Lewis Hamilton, not to mention the over enthusiasm of a certain S Vettel saw the German team leave Singapore with a 28 point advantage in the Drivers' Championship.

Two weeks later however, and on a track where Mercedes was expected to shine, the team is at sixes and sevens with both drivers struggling to keep their cars on the black stuff.

"The car seems to be unbalanced," declared Toto Wolff, "and that triggers an awful lot of consequences.

"It was certainly one of the worst Fridays I can remember," he added,

"There is a gremlin in the car," he insisted. "You can compare Malaysia a little bit to Silverstone, where we have been very good. We've been very good in the high-speed corners, we are not at all good in the high-speed here. There is a fundamental issue in the car that we need to find out."

"It's been a very difficult day," sighed Lewis Hamilton. "I've been struggling with the car, so we have to review and try to understand where we have gone wrong with the balance. We're hoping that we're able to find our bearings overnight and regroup for tomorrow."

"The lap time is reality," added Wolff, "the stopwatch always tells the truth. The lap time today showed that we are not quick enough."

"We're definitely lacking some performance," agreed Valtteri Bottas, "it seems like Ferrari and Red Bull are very strong. So we have some work to do if we want to be on the front row tomorrow.

"The car balance itself didn't feel too bad; it's just a question of overall grip. The key area we are going to need to focus on tonight will be getting the maximum out of the tyres over one lap."

Interestingly, the Finn suspects that some of the aero upgrades Mercedes is introducing here, including changes to the nose and bodywork ahead of the sidepods, could be responsible.

"We did try some new aero parts today, so one answer may be that one of those parts didn't work as expected," he said. "I suppose the new parts are quite a big step, but it didn't quite seem to happen. The team is reviewing everything and we need to make sure we have the right parts for tomorrow.

"What we need to find out, is why we're missing grip," he continued. "We really need to find more grip, somewhere, somehow. We were sliding quite a lot, especially in the high-speed corners, and it was the same case in the wet, so we need to find out why. In this kind of track you put so much energy through the tyres that if you slide you overheat the tyres and then it's tricky."

Check out our Friday gallery from Sepang, here.

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