Lewis Hamilton admitted Mercedes needed to improve quickly after the seven-time champion struggled to an 11th place finish in the second-practice session at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Hamilton was a full second off the pace set by Mexican, Sergio Perez and will have been frustrated to see title rival, Max Verstappen take second spot just behind his Red Bull teammate.
Mercedes were unable to build any lap time on the soft tyre which will be a crucial feature on Saturday. Hamilton conceded there would be frank discussions over how to get more out of the car but also felt he had performed well under the circumstances.
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“Honestly, I generally had a really good day," he told Sky Sports F1. "I felt it was clean, I got all the laps that we needed. There was not really any mistakes, I had one in P1 (first practice session), but it was just slow. In general feel like I’m driving well. The car felt better in P1, but with this one there was just no more time in it.
We are definitely quite a chunk (of time) down and everyone will be scratching their heads and trying to figure it out ,and looking into how we can improve.
“It didn’t feel good in this session (P2). In general I was pushing, I was on the limit, but the car is limited. There are areas where I should just be quicker but there is no more grip.
"We’ll work at it and, of course, it’s not easy to be out of the top 10 in pace when we had pace in other places, but yes, I don’t really know why we are where we are.”
Hamilton publicly criticised his team following a seventh-place finish at the Monaco GP and stopped short of suggesting they were on the right track after being asked if they had taken a step forward.
He added: “It’s impossible to say at the moment. Pace-wise we’ve not gone forward. If anything today looks like we’ve gone backwards. Well wait and see. I felt like I generally had a good, I just wasn’t very fast, but we’ll work on it
It was a better day of practice for Ferrari as both of their drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were third and fourth respectively. This was despite Leclerc suffering a slight impact with a wall on a lap that could have seen him edge ahead of the Red Bull pace-setters.
Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly came in fifth ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and McLaren's Lando Norris.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas endured a miserable day as he finished 16th fastest.
The third practice at the Baku City Circuit will take place on Saturday at 09:30 BST.
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