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Mercedes investigating whether wrong set-up is to blame for recent slump

Mercedes Nico Rosberg SpaMercedes is investigating whether a wrong set-up direction with its W03 is to blame for its recent drop of form.

Having come into the campaign as front-runners - delivering pole position and a race win early on - the Brackley-based outfit has fallen away from the leaders in recent races.

Team principal Ross Brawn does not believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the car, but set-up choices designed to get more out of the tyres could be at fault.

Earlier this year, McLaren found that a set-up direction Jenson Button had chosen derailed his campaign for a while and left him with just two points from four races.

Speaking about why Mercedes' season has trailed off, Brawn said: "If I am honest it is not completely clear why there has been this trend.

"I think we were looking pretty good in the first third of the season, we have not looked so good in the last few races and there is a lot of analysis and a lot of thinking going on as to how we can improve this situation.

"Everyone is working really hard, and we have updates coming up for the next few races.

"We are still learning with these tyres, and some changes you make affect the performance more than we would normally expect.

"We have to look at whether we have taken the wrong step somewhere in terms of setting the car up or how we use the car; and in parallel with that we have to keep pushing for performance improvements. We have some plans for the next few races that I think will help."

Brawn says that Mercedes' early-season efforts to try and improve its race pace may have contributed to its qualifying form trailing off.

"This year's car was a good step forward in many areas and we were able to demonstrate that at the beginning of this year," he explained.

"I think we have struggled a little bit to follow the needs of these tyres and some of the changes we have had to make to improve durability in the race have not helped our qualifying performance.

"At the beginning of the year we had strong qualifying performance but, with the race performance, sometimes we struggled. And in trying to do the opposite perhaps we have moved too much in the other direction."

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