Mercedes Technical Director James Allison has revealed the cause of brake issues that led to concern from both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Parc fermé has been enforced after only one hour of practice as part of the new sprint format, with the weekend to be completed by two qualifying sessions, the 100km sprint and the grand prix. But proceedings got off to a shaky start for Mercedes with both drivers complaining of braking issues – Hamilton suggesting the peddle felt long with his concerns echoed by teammate Russell. Explaining two different issues hit Hamilton and Russell, who ended the disrupted session 11th and 17th, Allison told media including : “Lewis went out with the car where the brake-by-wire was set to ‘passive’ mode, so you will get around the lap safely but it is just not a high-performance mode. “So he just had to come in and do a switch setting to get that back into good shape. “I think in George’s case, the brakes were just a bit spongey so that will all get sorted out for the next session.” Changes to the sprint format were confirmed at the 11th hour at an F1 Commission meeting earlier in the week, though the attitude to the tweaks has been positive. Allison, who returned to his role as Technical Director in a swap with Mike Elliott just 20 months after switching to become Chief Technical Officer, offered his opinion. “Free practice is ace because you get to find out about the car, but I think all of us like the adrenaline of the qualifying and the races more than the practice,” said Allison. “So although it feels loaded with fear and jeopardy, the fact you get into the paying end of the weekend that much quicker – there are four scary sessions instead of two – there is more fun for all of us.”

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