Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff admits he is expecting his team to endure a “very, very difficult” qualifying session in Baku on Saturday.
The reigning world champions struggled to set eye-catching lap times during practice, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas ending FP2 11th and 16th on the timesheets respectively.
Hamilton was over a second down on Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who ended the day in first place ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen.
Wolff says Mercedes’ lack of speed is a continuation of the struggles it encountered last time out in Monaco, where a challenging weekend saw it lose its position at the head of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championship to Red Bull.
“I think qualifying can be a very, very difficult session for us, probably one of the most difficult I’ve ever seen for us,” Wolff said. “Reminds me of Singapore ’15, but take it on the chin.
“Today was a day of data collection analysis, but definitely, what we have seen in Monaco is a bit of a prolongation into Baku that there are certain parts of the track that we just don’t perform.
“It’s all stop and go, it’s all 90-degree corners or tricky Monaco-style. So it was always clear that that would be difficult for us.
“I believe we have a good race car, so there’s ground to recover on Sunday and learn. It is what it is, we are trying to go as fast as possible with the kit that is available.”
Since Baku’s inaugral F1 event in 2016, Mercedes has walked away with three pole positions and three race wins from four attempts.