Mercedes’ technology director, Mike Elliott, believes Valtteri Bottas’ struggled to get into a “positive spiral” in Azerbaijan, which ultimately saw him finish out of the top 10 in Baku.
With Williams driver George Russell waiting in the wings patiently, Bottas is under constant pressure at Mercedes to keep his seat past 2021, as the Finn crossed the line P12 on Sunday.
The Finn didn’t finish higher than ninth in any timed session across the weekend, and his race performance saw him slip down the championship standings to sixth, behind Lando Norris.
“I can’t remember this kind of weekend,” said Bottas. “There have been weekends when I’ve had bad sessions, but always at some point, I’ve had the pace. But last weekend it was all the time, and during the weekend I haven’t understood what was wrong.
“I know myself when there’s the limit and I can’t go faster and then you’re still six, seven, eight-tenths behind. It’s not normal. It’s something we need to understand before going to France.
Sergio Perez looking to avoid threat of poisoned chalice Red Bull seat
“I think at this circuit one of the difficulties is getting the warm-up of the front tyre,” Elliott said.
“It is also a circuit where you need to have real confidence, the walls are really close and if you get it wrong you are going to put it into the wall.
“Those two things kind of go together because if you can go a little bit quicker, if you can get yourself a little bit closer to the wall because you are confident, then you get a bit more heat into the tyres because you have got more duty.
“If you get more heat into the tyres you get a bit more grip and you can go faster and so you end up with this sort of positive spiral.