Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirmed that incorrect hybrid energy tuning caused early de-rates on both Mercedes at long-straits in Baku street circuit during the race.
Nico Rosberg had the same problem as Hamilton who started the race in the wrong engine mode. But it mattered not as, unlike the Briton, Rosberg quickly corrected the issue to secure top podium, but Hamilton failed to improve the pace and finish with fifth.
“Starting at the very beginning, we were relieved to see both cars make it cleanly round the first lap after the chaos of the GP2 races earlier in the weekend. From there, Nico did a fantastic job. After a great pole position yesterday, he capitalised on that with a superbly controlled drive from start to finish – managing his tyres, engine and brakes perfectly” said Toto Wolff
“For Lewis, it was never going to be easy from P10. Unfortunately, this turned out to be even more difficult than we had predicted. The pace of the car was not as strong as it had seemed on our long runs during Friday’s practice sessions, with some of our rivals proving impossible to overtake. This is something we need to look into and understand, as he wasn’t able to extract the pace he’d shown throughout the weekend to that point.”
“We did see a problem with Hybrid energy management on both cars. There was a configuration related to the management of Hybrid energy which unfortunately was not correctly tuned during our race preparations. What this caused was premature de-rates down the straight, costing the driver around three to four tenths of a second per lap. It was only present when the driver selected a specific strategy mode on the steering wheel, with the other modes unaffected.”
“Unfortunately, under the new radio restrictions introduced for this year, the team is unable to tell the driver which mode to use – or not to use, in this case. Having sought permission to do so from the FIA, we were able to give the drivers an indication – but nothing more. It was a bit like asking them to solve a crossword puzzle with minimal clues while driving at in excess of 200mph, which is no mean feat! Unfortunately for Lewis, it took around 15 laps to rectify the problem.” Wolff added
“This lost him a lot of time before eventually he was back to full speed – by which time it was too late to make a charge for the podium, which was a definite possibility for him today. The bigger problem we need to understand is why his car was not as quick as it should have been overall.”