Toto Wolff says a combination of exceptional factors put Mercedes’ drivers on the back foot in qualifying at Istanbul, but the Austrian says the Brackley squad will learn from its struggles.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas qualified respectively 6th and 9th in the wet and cold session as neither driver succeeded in putting their tyres in the optimal operational window in the final top-ten shootout, a common theme among teams on Saturday.

The performance was Mercedes’ first defeat in qualifying this year, and Wolff explained the reasons behind the shortfall.

“I believe we haven’t lost a pole in wet conditions this year,” said Mercedes boss.

“But the conditions were different in that it wasn’t only wet, but it was a brand new circuit that was slippery and cold ambient and track temperatures.

“We just weren’t able to switch the tyres on, and you can see that, if you’re just not in the right window, you’re just sliding all over the place, and the consequences are massive gaps between teams and cars.

©Mercedes

“I think we have to learn from this. It was very different conditions than we have over the average of the season because of the temperatures, track and air, because of the rain and because of the resurfaced tarmac.

“But it doesn’t matter, because it is the same for everybody, and today we have been not able to switch the tyres on and find the grip but others were.

“I always say that we learn the most on the days we are beaten, and today will be such a day. I hope in the future we will understand how to switch the tyres on even in polar conditions.”

Mercedes track engineer Andrew Shovlin said the team would likely undertake a few set-up changes ahead of Sunday’s race.

“We’ve got some freedom to make a few changes to the car tomorrow and we need to have a good look at things ahead of the race because tyre warm-up is going to be critical,” Shovlin said.

“Once we get temperature in the tyres, we seem to be in decent shape and the car seems to be working well, so getting the rubber to work is our main concern.

“It’s an interesting weekend with many opportunities to grow our understanding of the car and the tyres. The unusual grid should make for an exciting race and we’re looking forward to it.”

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Source: Formula 1 – F1I