Mercedes says Losail was the circuit that it was “most concerned about” of the final trio of events as it continues it chase for an eighth straight world title.
Mercedes and Red Bull have been locked in a fierce competition through the 2021 campaign and the reigning champions have held the edge at the most recent pair of events.
Lewis Hamilton’s back-to-back victories have moved him to within eight points of Max Verstappen though in the Constructors’ battle Valtteri Bottas’ puncture enabled Red Bull to reduce Mercedes’ advantage to just five points.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted the squad was surprised at Hamilton’s qualifying advantage, having been over four-tenths clear, and explained that “we thought we’d be good here, but this was the track that of the three that remained as we came in here the one we were perhaps most concerned about.
“From Saturday morning though it looked like Lewis had it all under control but it’s very difficult to predict whether the margin’s going to be one tenth, two tenths, which is still a pretty handsome margin.
“We never thought it would be the amount it was but it all came in that final run, for him Turn 1 was good and he said from there it just kind of flowed.
“But he’s really in the zone at the moment and we can do all our simulations but nothing explains why he was that far ahead, ahead of Max, it’s fundamentally just down to him really sort of digging deep and doing what needs to be done.”
Back-to-back events at new-for-2021 Jeddah and a reprofiled Yas Marina will round out the campaign.