Lewis Hamilton says that ‘small nuances’ in the setup of his car are the reason behind his early season struggles in the F1 world championship, particularly in Monte Carlo and Sochi.
Initially, Hamilton got off to a flyer, getting on the podium in four of the first five races.
But, races in Russia and in Monaco have thrown his season into disarray after finishing fourth in Sochi and failing to qualifying inside the top 10 at Monaco.
On both occasions, Mercedes had difficulty getting Pirelli's ultra-soft tyres to work on smooth asphalt, but Hamilton’s and teammate Valtteri Bottas’s fortunes have fared differently.
Bottas won the Sochi Grand Prix and was competing for pole alongside the Ferrari’s in Monte Carlo.
"In Sochi, we had different car set-ups," Hamilton told Autosport.
"Initially it didn't look like they were massively different, but just small nuances.
"For example, corner entry stability and balance, as opposed to mid-corner to exit, (the cars) were set-up differently.
"I had a very unstable car on the way into the corner, so the way I ended up having to drive the car was with more understeer mid-corner. It was lots of complicated things.
"Then there's tyre temperature, and how you utilise the tyre temperature.
"There are small things that we are beginning to see."
Hamilton also shifted blame to variations in brake bias and mechanical balance on his car, compared to his teammate Bottas’ suggestion that they made problems worse for him, causing him to lose tyre temperature and therefore his car’s grip on the road as he nearly crashed twice in Monaco.
"Sometimes it's to do with the brake bias," Hamilton added.
"The last race (Monaco) it was more to do with the brake balance and the mechanical balance - and because we (needed to) do multiple laps (to prepare the tyres).
"By the fourth lap the tyres were in a better place than they were in the first lap, but the Ferraris could do it first lap.
"We're trying to understand how we can get the car to switch the tyres on quicker.
"But in Q2, had I finished that lap, I was only a tenth behind Valtteri, so I would've got into Q3."
Hamilton now finds himself 25 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel.
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