After Canadian win, will Mercedes be on top in Baku?

Lewis Hamilton has won two out of the last three F1 races from pole. (Photo: Steve Etherington/LAT Images)
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The Canadian GP saw Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Monaco, but what we don’t know yet is whether or not that form will translate into the rest of the upcoming races.

Thus far this season we’ve seen the advantage go swap back and forth between Mercedes and Ferrari, although what is clear is that the Italian car appears to be more consistent and easier to set-up for different conditions. After Monaco Mercedes did a lot of work to address that situation, and it paid off with a crushing one-two finish.

“After every race they do a huge amount of analysis,” Hamilton explained following his Montreal win. “It was really a reality check for us. I think it was quite easy to see where we’d gone wrong. We’d experienced it through P1 in practice, and that remained with us through the rest of the weekend.

“Then it was really doing a lot of analysis, so a lot of the energy was focusing on lots of different areas, trying to make sure the simulations are right, because they weren’t perfect, understand why the wind tunnel would give us one reading, and [the reality], different readings.”

Elaborating on that homework he explained: “When I went to the factory on the Thursday [after Monaco] they were still doing all the analysis at the time, so all I could do was give questions, and then really focus on this week. And then later on in the weekend we had discussions about what they had found. They were still discovering some things. We came here and we had the meeting on Wednesday, and that’s when I got a clearer idea.

“So it was really down to the team, you know. Minds working together, putting it together, communicating, which believe or not in a big organization like this, doesn’t always happen. It’s easy to miscommunicate things, but they remain very open together and work forwards as a team. The best team I’ve seen for a long time.”

He insisted that it wasn’t fair to make comparisons with Singapore 2015, when the team bounced back from an awful weekend to dominate the next race at Suzuka. This time, the answers are clearer.

“I think in Singapore it was a bit more of an unknown, what happened then. I definitely came away even after two weeks still not fully understanding why we were in the position we were in. It was a bit like that for all of us, even though we did come back.

“This time as I said the teamwork, the engineering, was so much better. We really understood where we went wrong, we really understood where the car was wrong, why we couldn’t activate the tires. We came here actually with real knowledge rather than an idea of what potentially might have been the case, and we’ll try a couple of them. We actually came here with a real know-how of how to fix it.”

Intriguingly, Hamilton also revealed that the one-off fastest lap that he produced late in the Montreal race was his contribution to help the team by testing the limits of the car on an afternoon when he had not been under pressure. He said he was gathering useful data for himself and his engineers.

“It was not for fun, it was just I had not really had to put the car on the limit during the race. When I come back and do my engineering I have to give back information, and get a lot of information, from doing 70 laps of the track.

“There are several different states you can put the car in, and I was like one lap I need to put the car properly on the limit, to see firstly how the tires react, do they wake up, do they get better do they get worse, does the car react differently on the curbs.

“I did a great lap, and we gained a lot of information on that lap to be able to carry on. Also how I set the car up for the race. If I hadn’t done that lap I would have come out of an hour and 45 minutes, or whatever it is, with a little bit less information.”

Lewis remains circumspect about the team’s prospects for next weekend’s race in Baku, where he had a disastrous time last year.

“Obviously we’ve had a great weekend this weekend, but I can’t really predict what’s going to happen. We’re going to go to another race – Baku is very smooth, a bit like Russia, but again we were quick in Russia, and so for us personally getting the car where we need it every weekend is definitely a challenge.

“But I think we’ve learned a lot from Monaco, I think we’ve learned a lot from this weekend. If we acquire the same diligence that we did in the past two weeks after every single race, even when we win, I’m pretty sure that we can continue to fight, and maybe not make the rollercoaster ride so up and down.”

Meanwhile, his team boss is equally cautious about Azerbaijan: “Another challenging situation,” said Toto Wolff.  “Last year it was a difficult race, completely different. At the moment you need to stay race by race, stay in the same calm mode we are and collect points. There will be good weekends and very good weekends, and there will be the odd bad weekend, we had it in Monte Carlo and Ferrari had it [in Montreal]. It is just about limiting that.

“The more data you collect, the more you understand. We have seen it in last year we grew stronger every year and this is not an instinct business, this is a scientific business. II think every mile we drive is going to make us perform better, and hopefully good enough to compete for the championship.”