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Mercedes: tyre dramas not caused by inherent car problem

Mercedes suspects that its tyre dramas are not being caused by an inherent problem with its car.

The team suffered a deeply frustrating Spanish Grand Prix, where both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's form slumped after locking out the front row, and it does not yet have an answer as to why its W04 is so strong in qualifying and so poor in the races.

When asked by AUTOSPORT if Mercedes believed the matter was related to the procedure of looking after the tyres, its motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: "I don't think it is an inherent car problem because if you have an inherent car problem you cannot do three pole positions. Or be good on one stint, bad the other one.

"We are trying to analyse everything - how you treat the tyre, how you heat it, how you keep the heat in or get the heat out, how you drive, how you build it up.

"We are looking at our competitors and what you can see is that some cars are having an easier time with the tyres.

"Kimi [Raikkonen] looks like he is not managing a lot while everyone else is managing a bit in the high-speed corners like [Barcelona Turns] three and nine.

"So I don't think it is an inherent car problem, I think it is something about processes."

Mercedes held a two-hour debrief on Sunday night to work out why Rosberg dropped from pole position to sixth, with Hamilton slipping to 12th from second on the grid.

Wolff said that the situation is deeply confusing, especially because Mercedes focused everything on delivering a good race set-up in Spain but still ended up on the front row.

"We did a long run in P3 that was a good long run, and we were setting the car up to what we believe was a set-up for the race," he said.

"So we were quite surprised by the pace of qualifying.

"Did the others go much more conservative in terms of race set-up? I don't think so. It is something else.

"It requires out-of-the-box thinking. This is a pattern we have seen in the past, that the car that is doing good on the track at the beginning of the season is generally a quick car.

"We had three pole positions, so that is a quick car, but then the performance seems to deteriorate.

"Now it is about everybody in the team sticking their heads together and saying let's analyse what we do from a Saturday to Sunday. Is there anything that we need to be looking at which we didn't look at right now?"

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