In the last two years, Mercedes lost only three races each season, to Red Bull in 2014 and Ferrari in 2015 including here last year. But for the reigning champion, unlike its other defeats where technical trouble or crashes played a part, last year’s race was the first time in two years it was genuinely found wanting for pace. The team struggled to get the tyres in the right window and lacked pace throughout the weekend.
While the team has increased its superiority over the field this year losing only at Spain to Max Verstappen when both the drivers crashed out in the opening lap, the team’s one weakness has been with the starts. At a circuit where track position could hold the key, the starts could become a crucial factor that decides the outcome of the race.
Both the drivers have suffered from poor starts this season and even in the last race, Hamilton slipped to sixth from pole before fighting back to finish second.
Speaking about it, the Briton said, “it’s pretty hard to start the races but its little bit hard now because you are not allowed certain feedback like clutch temperature. Sometimes it gives you more torque, some it is less.”
Rosberg too agreed the starts have been a challenge and needs attention. “I have been feeling good lately but also have had my difficulties losing in Hockenheim and Hungary at the starts. There are always different reasons to the start issues and it is always a combination of factors.”
Hamilton added, “If you gauge my season, the championship can be lost through starts. I have lost quite a few races from pole position at the start. You work the whole weekend but those two seconds have determined a few races.”
Since the break, Hamilton lost the momentum he built in July winning all four races, as Rosberg fought back with wins in the last two events. But Hamilton said he is still positive looking ahead. “I was 43 points behind at one stage, so feeling pretty good leading the championship with all the engine penalties and starts. The speed is still there so I feel good.”
Rosberg who will be starting his 200th grand prix this weekend said the team has learnt from last year’s race but remained guarded on the team’s chances. “We understand some of them and made some major changes so we hope to look better. But is it enough to turn around a one-second deficit per lap we had last year? It is not an easy one.”
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