Mercedes

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

  • Standing 1st
  • Points 701

Mercedes Links

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton admit tyre wear a concern in heat of Malaysia

Silver Arrows still fastest, but tyre fears return as Mercedes as drivers suffer 'massive degradation' and World Champs Red Bull close the gap

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 30/03/14 12:32pm

  • Share:

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Mercedes' apparent speed advantage over the chasing - but closing - pack may be stymied by fears over tyre degradation on the W05 after a longstanding weakness in the Silver Arrows package returned with a vengeance in Friday practice at Sepang.

Although a Mercedes driver ended both sessions at the top of the timesheets - with Lewis Hamilton fastest in P1 and Nico Rosberg quickest in the afternoon's Practice Two - the team's progress was stymied by severe degradation on their rear tyres.

Whilst there is little doubt that the W05 remains the fastest package on show, with the car boasting a speed advantage over Red Bull of approximately 10kmh along the back straights, both Ferrari and World Champions Red Bull have appeared to made significant inroads in the two weeks since the season-opening Australian GP where Rosberg claimed an emphatic victory after Hamilton's early exit.

Having led the field by half a second in Friday Practice at Melbourne, just 0.061s covered the top three of Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon at Sepang, while there was a two tenths of a second gap back to Williams' Felipe Massa in sixth.

Perhaps equally as significantly, neither Hamilton nor Rosberg's W05 appeared able to run as long as the F14 T or RB10 on the faster but more brittle medium tyre - the softer of the two compounds selected for this weekend.

"The conditions are very tough and we didn't expect such massive degradation," admitted Rosberg to Sky Sports News. "It's a big challenge. There will be lots of different strategies and anything could happen. Fuel strategy shouldn't be a challenge, we're just focused on the tyres."

Having led the way in the morning session, Hamilton was 0.142s slower than Rosberg in the afternoon and agreed that the famously hot and humid Sepang weather - which produced soaring track temperatures of 50 degrees in P2 - was far from ideal for tyre wear.

"It's too hot for the tyres," Hamilton told Sky Sports News.

"The tyres arent really working well in these conditions and even though we've got the hard tyre and the medium here, the tyres do not feel great. But it's the same for everyone."

Despite the timesheets suggesting Ferrari and Red Bull in particular had eroded some of Mercedes' big Melbourne advantage, Hamilton said he welcomed the increased challenge.

"I never do [look at the Friday order], but it's good that everyone's close. What matters is what happens tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton says Sepang is 'too hot' for the tyres

The 29-year-old, while being particularly cagey about his race prospects this weekend, did welcome the fact that problematic engine that caused his early retirement in Australia had come through P1 unscathed following repairs.

"It saves us perhaps the grid penalty further along the way, so it's good," he said.

"I had that less mileage on the engine so I hope I can push it a bit more."

Qualifying begins at 8am UK time on Saturday morning with Sunday's race, live on Sky Sports F1, underway from 9am.

  • Share:

Related

Malaysia GP 2014

Malaysia GP analysis

Dissecting the facts behind Williams' contentious team order, Hamilton's crushing pace and the performances of Kvyat.

Brundle: Lewis hushes critics

Martin Brundle on Hamilton's dominant win, another impressive outing from Hulkenberg and team-orders at Williams

Daniel Ricciardo: Praised by his team boss

Horner impressed by Ricciardo

Christian Horner has lauded the impact Daniel Ricciardo has made at Red Bull despite the Australian's run of misfortune.

Related Profiles

Poll

Most Popular

Features

Can Merc be caught?

Can Merc be caught?

After Mercedes swept all before them in 2014, Mark Hughes assess whether things will change in '15.

What was said...

What was said...

Remember when Hamilton's Mercedes move seemed a bad idea? Here's what was said at the time.

'Lewis deserved title'

'Lewis deserved title'

Nico Rosberg gracious and sporting in defeat after being beaten to the title by his Mercedes team-mate