Mercedes F1 drivers "a lot happier" with W12 car at Imola

Mercedes’ Formula 1 drivers were left feeling “a lot happier” with their W12 Formula 1 car after taking 1-2 finishes in Friday practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Mercedes F1 drivers "a lot happier" with W12 car at Imola

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas spent much of pre-season testing and the opening race weekend in Bahrain battling to get to grips with the new Mercedes W12, which struggled with an unstable rear-end after changes to the car floor design regulations.

Hamilton narrowly beat Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to victory in Bahrain, but was under no illusions about the battle Mercedes faced to claw back the deficit and have the fastest car again.

But Mercedes returned to form in Friday’s practice running at Imola as Bottas led Hamilton to a 1-2 finish in both FP1 and FP2.

Verstappen finished 0.058 seconds off the pace in FP1, placing third, and wound up 14th in FP2 after a driveshaft issue ended his session after just five laps.

Despite lacking an accurate comparison to Verstappen, Bottas was left pleased by the improved feeling of the W12 at Imola after he “lost count” of the set-ups sampled for the weekend in the simulator.

“Starting this weekend, if I compare to Bahrain how the car is feeling, it's definitely feeling better, so that's nice,” Bottas said.

“As I said yesterday, it is a different track and a different type of circuit and surface and grip level, but at least the weekend started in a positive way, and the car really wasn't far away in sense of the set-up.

“There are still things to be tuned but overall [with] the balance, I'm a lot happier with the car now than three weeks ago.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Bottas said there were still some issues that Mercedes had to get on top of with the W12 at Imola, but was still pleased by the progress it had made.

“It feels better - still the same type of issues, but less,” Bottas said.

“So it's still not perfect, but we're only on event two out of 23 this season, so hopefully we'll have enough time to fix it.

“But at least we can really feel we've made steps forward so that's good.”

Hamilton echoed Bottas’s thoughts, believing the step forward made by Mercedes is down to a combination of both its own work and Imola being a more suitable track for the W12’s strengths.

“The team have definitely worked really hard to try and understand what happened in the last race, where we were weak and where we can try to make the car a little bit better with set-up, Hamilton said.

“But I think the track has also come a bit more in our direction.

“We started off with a really good set-up, and just small tweaks here and there, but no major issues. So far, good pace for us.”

But the seven-time world champion remained coy on just how competitive Red Bull could be after the team endured a scrappy day of running at Imola.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best from the Red Bulls yet,” Hamilton said.

“They look like they’ve had quite messy sessions with traffic and that, so it will be quite interesting to see tomorrow just how quick they are.”

shares
comments

Related video

Verstappen: Red Bull ‘a little bit’ on back foot after FP2 problem

Previous article

Verstappen: Red Bull ‘a little bit’ on back foot after FP2 problem

Next article

Horner: Aston Martin ‘a little naive’ to expect F1 aero rule tweaks

Horner: Aston Martin ‘a little naive’ to expect F1 aero rule tweaks
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Emilia Romagna GP
Teams Mercedes
Author Luke Smith
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021