The Mercedes drivers were surprised by the step back the team took between today’s two practice sessions in Monza.
The driver line-up of the German team finished the first practice in third and fourth place, with only the Ferrari drivers in front of them. However, since they were within half a second of the fastest in the opening session, Russell and Hamilton fell further, and the gap was significantly larger.
Lewis Hamilton, who finished eighth in second practice, 0.839 seconds behind Carlos Sainz, said the loss in performance was unexpected given the minor changes the team had made.
“We made some changes in the settings, nothing major, but we went a lot slower or (others) went a lot faster. [We] did our best, it just doesn’t seem particularly fast,” said the Mercedes driver .
Hamilton admitted that the team had low energy distribution from their power unit. George Russell, who reported an irregular layout during the second session, believes Ferrari can have an advantage in this area.
“It was a flash during the session, which made things worse. But generally speaking, we lack a bit of deployment.”
“I think we are similar to Red Bull, but Ferrari seemed to have the advantage in terms of deployment. So that can make things more complicated in a race scenario because they have enough to play with. It will be something we will have to deal with.”
Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell admitted it was a “bit of a strange day” after dropping to fifth during the second free practice, having looked quite good in the first.
“The first free practice looked pretty good, but then Ferrari and Red Bull seemed to take a step forward compared to us or maybe we took a step back because we were obviously behind McLaren in the second practice. So tonight we need to work to understand that.”