The five most important issues Mercedes need to address in their title fight with Ferrari.
LEWIS HAMILTON’S Mercedes team will return to work at their Brackley HQ today with some key problems that need resolving before the Russian Grand Prix on April 30.
Here, SunSport’s BEN HUNT looks at the five most important issues they need to address in their title fight with Ferrari.
1) Is it time to use team orders?
After three years of Mercedes being untroubled, Ferrari’s rise is a factor beyond their control.
It was no problem while Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were winning everywhere.
Regular use of team tactics would be hated by fans and annoy one driver.
Yet it would give them more control over the outcome of races — and Merc chief Toto Wolff has already shown he will do it.
2) Why are the mistakes happening?
The new rules have done their job and cut Merc’s advantage — and they seem to have lost their composure.
They have made two wrong strategy calls to pit Hamilton, while Ferrari’s decisions with Sebastian Vettel have been spot-on.
Also, a generator did not work on the grid, Valtteri Bottas’ first stop was slow and Hamilton’s DRS wing did not engage during qualifying.
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3) Bottas is unhappy.
Inheriting the champion’s car was never going to be easy and, so far, he has been eclipsed by his team-mate.
His only saving grace was taking pole in Bahrain but he was fuming after being told to allow Hamilton to pass in the race.
Bottas needs form fast before he is pigeonholed as a No 2 driver.
4) Hamilton will not be happy, either.
Maintaining the harmony between team-mates has always been a struggle, but what if Hamilton falls out with his bosses . . . again?
How much can he take? After last season’s reliability issues scuppered his chances of winning the title, he needs Mercedes to fix their problems before they cost him even more points.
5) Why is their car not fast enough?
Merc looked comfortable in testing and still seem good over one lap. But in race trim, it is another matter.
The gap between them and Ferrari has been reduced. And it appears they cannot get a handle on the new, wider tyres.
Also, Paddy Lowe, who oversaw the development of this year’s car, left for Williams.