Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Sebastian Vettel: Tuesday testing has given final verdict on Mercedes tyre controversy

Sebastian Vettel: Tuesday testing has given final verdict on Mercedes tyre controversy

Mercedes have offered an explanation for the delay in signing a fresh contract with Lewis Hamilton by saying both parties wanted to focus on improving the Formula One team's auto.

After a relatively sluggish start to 2018, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport's chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has said that the team's first 1-2 finish of the season is a "great reward".

The Red Bull driver - on pole for the first time in Monaco in 2016 - set the fastest race lap on Sunday and, perhaps more significantly, was quickest in the last high-downforce sector. It lasts for just over a lap at the Circuit de Catalunya but, underlining the differences in the two circuits, is expected to cover most of a race distance in Monaco where Formula One will race next.

The defending four-time champion, who increased his lead in this year's title race to 17 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, added that he and his team were still uncertain about the races ahead.

In this picture, Race victor Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain, May 13, 2018.

The next F1 race is in Monaco on May 27.

The Mercedes driver used supersoft Pirellis for his nest time after he and Ferrari's Antonio Giovinazzi swapped places several times in the hour before lunch. "The first run was not so good, but the last lap I was happy", he said. "Everything's going fine", Wolff told reporters during the Barcelona Grand Prix, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"We spoke about potential options for next year or even later on this year, spreading the compounds out a little bit, making it a bit more racy".

Wolff, though, emphasised that priorities for both sides in recent weeks have been elsewhere, and that there is no reason to doubt a deal will be soon finalised.

The team confirmed their job sheet included data collection in order to correlate performance between the wind tunnel and track after recent vehicle improvements, set-up work, plus focus on engine development. But they [Ferrari] chose to stop again during the VSC and we didn't, which was the right decision. "But it's nearly all sorted and we'll pick it up at the right time", added the Austrian.

However, he has changed his stance and confirmed that despite the team possessing good drivers in Valtteri Bottas - Hamilton's current teammate - and good young drivers in Esteban Ocon and George Russell, they are looking at Ricciardo as a potential candidate.

He said "Before I was like, "Maybe I'm just insane and everyone has got quicker and I've got slower".

"I was in a hard situation after the first stint because I was stuck behind Sebastian", he said.

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