Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Mercedes had ‘literally zero grip’ at FP1 of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Friday.
George Russell was only just in the top 10 while Lewis Hamilton trailed the fastest peers, suggesting there is little hope of a competitive run at qualifying, the sprint race on Saturday, or the full race on Sunday.
The German team had come equipped with several attempted improvements on their car design but before practice Hamilton had acknowledged it was fundamentally the same vehicle they had started the season with.
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18th-placed Hamilton was second seconds off the pace, and Wolff said he was: "Not delighted. As you can see there's nine seconds between the quickest and the last. This is all about getting grip into the tyre and the temperature. The Ferraris appear to have unlocked this thing and everybody else is pretty much all over the place.”
He then laid bare the extent of the problems with the tires, saying: "I thought it would [level the field]. The feedback we are getting from Lewis and George is that there’s literally zero grip. These gaps point to the tyres.
"I think when you are able to unlock that issue, you will do a jump. There will be quite some discrepancies in terms of performance. It's not the car, and it's not the driver.
"Certainly when you see your car pounding around five seconds off the pace, you want to strangle yourself. But I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy it being bad - because in the long run we're going to be good.
"We need to heat the tyres, and try to find the setup that brings them in quicker and hope the clever guys get on top of it. We've done it in the past."
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