Mercedes expects Hungary to 'expose' team's qualifying weakness


Mercedes is bracing for a difficult Hungarian Grand Prix where it fears it will be left in the thick of F1's midfield on race day given how the venue's track will inevitably expose its car's qualifying weakness.

Mercedes achieved its best result of the season In France where Lewis Hamilton finished runner-up to Max Verstappen, with George Russell completing the podium at Paul Ricard.

The Brackley squad readily admits that it cannot yet challenge its Red Bull and Ferrari rivals on Sunday, but Mercedes' qualifying deficit to F1's front-runners is even greater, which does not bode well for the Silver Arrows squad at Budapest's Hungaroring where overtaking is at a premium.

Asked in Mercedes' French Grand Prix debrief video on YouTube about the relative weakness of the W13 over a single lap, strategy director James Vowles explained why the team has opted to focus on its race pace this year.


"Why are we a little bit more offset in free practice one and two, even qualifying there is a large gap to the front and we’re more in the midfield with the McLaren outqualifying George, but in the race the car just seems to transform?" said Vowles.

"It’s a valid observation, it’s one that’s been there all year. It’s not through necessarily design – we didn’t plan to be that offset in qualifying – but the reality is we’d much prefer to have the fast race car we have at the moment.

"The race is over 50-plus laps and having a car that is competitive on all of those gives you opportunities and we’ve typically been able to move back forward through the race into a strong position.

"That said, we’d obviously prefer to be more competitive in qualifying.

"There is going to be some tracks like Budapest that are going to cause us issues and we need to make sure that we are really there or thereabouts to make sure that we don’t have a number of other teams between ourselves and Ferrari and Red Bull."


Asked whether Mercedes' season best result at Paul Ricard provided hope of a good showing in Hungary, Vowles explained why last weekend's performance isn't necessarily setting up the team for an equally positive outcome in Budapest.

"We are not where we need to be yet to be winning, that’s the short answer to it, especially for example on qualifying pace and Hungary will expose that weakness somewhat," he said.

"We are realistic, we have made steps forward and I can see progress and we can see progress for how we are going to move forward again across the next few races but in Budapest we have to be realistic.

"Where we are with this car is a strong race car but we may not be able to use all of it in the conditions that are presented to us and we need to do a better job than we have been doing to make sure we are qualifying where the car should be, towards the front."

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