George Russell said Ferrari and Red Bull have an “inherently faster car” than Mercedes as the Silver Arrows struggled in the first two practice sessions of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Russell finished seventh in FP2 while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was down in 12th as the porpoising issue seemed to return.

Mercedes’ form has been up and down of late having seemingly regained their Championship pace in Barcelona, only to disappoint last time out in Monaco.

That poor form looks set to continue as the W13 struggles with the Baku circuit.

Russell commented that while most teams put in their quicker laps towards the end of the session, Ferrari and Red Bull seemed to be “inherently faster” than the rest of the pack.

“It was a tricky day, we weren’t as competitive as we would have liked,” the 24-year-old said. “Again, a tricky track to get the tyres in the right window.

“You see with a number of drivers, their fastest laps were coming right at the end of the run, whereas Ferrari and Red Bull, they seemed to be able to turn it on. At the moment, they just have an inherently faster car than us and we’ve done everything we can to try and catch up.

Time to find, but you know we'll be working as hard as we can to hunt it down. pic.twitter.com/Pi7L9VEsWR

— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 10, 2022

“If we’re totally on top of the tyres we’re not going to fully close that gap – or we’re definitely not going to close that gap, they’re just too far ahead. So that’s probably 50% of our issues – the rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment.”

Earlier in the season, Russell commented that it may not be until Silverstone (July 3) that Mercedes have fixed their problem. Hamilton has reiterated that belief more recently and said that he was “hoping and praying” they would at least understand their issues.

“Every race is an opportunity for us to test something new, so we have something every weekend,” Hamilton told reporters in Baku.

“It doesn’t always work, and the bumps still cause us a bit of havoc. But I mean, Silverstone is a while away. Was it, two more races away?

“So I’m really, really hoping and praying by then at least we’ve got it under control, but I really don’t know whether we will or not. I’m hopeful.”

 

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