Mercedes explains stall in Lewis Hamilton contract talks

Ross Houston
May 15, 2018

It is a sign of how well Hamilton is driving in Barcelona that fellow four-time champion Vettel, not far from his own best, still could not overhaul him.

Valtteri Bottas was celebrating second place on the podium this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix. "Honestly before the race we expected one stop was not going to be possible - at least to do the race quickly with one stop. But as a team it's all a good race", he said.

"We weren't happy with our cars' performance and we needed to sort it out".

In Ferrari's favour, Mercedes has struggled at certain circuits in past years, including Monaco. Silverstone hosted the first grand prix back in 1950, and F1 felt it would be fitting for the Northamptonshire airfield to host next year's landmark race, too, meaning the event would move from its July slot to April. 'The bottom line is that we were not quick enough, ' a rather glum Vettel conceded. But it's nearly all sorted and we will pick it up at the right time.

"It's obviously a little bit early to say but I would like to hope that it could be part of a turning point", he said.

Now, to talk about the Spanish GP weekend itself, Mercedes looked to be on great form.

"The next races are very different tracks, Monaco in particular, and to win there is hard even when you have a great auto".

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are not done just yet.

Vettel won the Monaco race a year ago, when Ferrari was 1-2 in qualifying and in the GP. After that I was really surprised they didn't have the pace to keep up with me.

With the exception of the seasonopening Melbourne race, the 33-year-old had so far this season appeared ill at ease in his Mercedes, fighting to impose his will on a capricious auto.

"We do after the five races now have a much, much better understanding of the auto, of what we need to do to get the vehicle to be working - but we still have learning to do, improvements to be made".

The Mercedes works better on the harder tyres but Monaco will have hypersoft rubber available for the first time at the track and chances are Mercedes will struggle again. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo, not to be left out of the highlight package, spun behind the virtual safety auto. In a way, while it was a shame for Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, it was lucky that there weren't more cars wiped out in that or drivers injured.

Verstappen will be at the wheel of Red Bull's RB14 for the opening part of the session before handing over to British driver Jake Dennis, who will get his first taste of on-track F1 power when he takes the seat on Wednesday.

Valtteri Bottas appeared a dead man walking after he courted criticism for failing to make Vettel sweat in their battle for the lead back in Bahrain.

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