Despite winning both opening rounds of the 2016 F1 season with Nico Rosberg, Mercedes know that it can do better when it comes to dominating from the front.
The Three Pointed Star claimed pole position for both the Australian and Bahrain grands prix courtesy of Lewis Hamilton but, on neither occasion, did the world champion lead into turn one. In Melbourne, both Mercedes were jumped by the two Ferraris while, in Bahrain last weekend, second-placed starter Rosberg got the better of Hamilton, who was then tagged by the faster starting Valtteri Bottas at the first corner.
Team boss Toto Wolff admitted after the Sakhir round that the problems getting the W07 off the line was clearly an issue for Mercedes, which was seeking advice from its parent company in a bid to correct things for future races.
"Remember that we have these new clutches and new start procedures to make it more variable and this is what we have…," Wolff reasoned, "You will see good starts and bad starts and, [in Bahrain], the Ferraris, which really came off the line well [in Melbourne], didn't go well at all, but we need to analyse what happened to our two cars. I think it is random. When you look at Nico's start into the formation lap, by mistake he chose second gear and went into anti-stall, so all that is possible and all that was the purpose of changing the regulations."
Despite hinting that Hamilton lagging into turn one may have been 'a bit of a reaction time issue', Wolff also confirmed that Daimler had been called on to add some input on the clutch side.
"We came to believe it was more of a hardware issue than just a control electronics problem and you can't solve it from one race to another, so we are working on trying to solve it," he explained, "The way the clutch is and the way we run them, the way we calibrate them, and obviously how the drivers use them, needs to be optimised, but mainly the collaboration with Daimler is optimising the hardware and that needs a little bit of time. When we will have results… I'm not sure yet."
Wolff admitted that, while the starts had not been ideal, they hadn't totally compromised the drivers' races, even if Hamilton has had to battle back from the lower reaches of the top ten to eventually claim a podium finish. While the team boss would not be pressed further on whether reaction times were indeed an issue, a remarkably phlegmatic Hamilton hinted that he may not have been as quick on the draw as he could have been.
"I'm not really worried about it," the world champion insisted, "The first one was clutch related and the second one was something else. It is not an issue, something we will fix for the next race. Nico got a good start and, actually, I did - once I got going. It was hand-in-hand in the whole process, not ultimately my fault even if it was my reaction that cost me the time. It is something we are working on internally on and it is not a big issue at all. It just has a domino effect and [Bahrain] was a bigger domino effect than the last one."
The one thing Hamilton was not questioning was the change in rules made over the winter to bring a little more driver skill into play at the start.
"I don't think it has made a difference," he said of the new procedures and changes in technology allowed, "[Bahrain]'s result was nothing to do with the change. In the first race, it is all about how warm your clutch is, it might be more difficult to gauge if the clutch if warm or not. That is not what has happened caused an issue in the last two races."