Lewis Hamilton is currently facing "a test of character", according to F1's managing director motorsports Ross Brawn.
After scoring a career-high number of points from the opening four races, Hamilton has since managed to collect just seven from the last two as Mercedes has struggled around the streets of Monaco and Azerbaijan.
Hamilton's mistake at the restart of the race in Baku led to him trundling home 15th, only his second non-points finish with Mercedes since joining the team in 2013 when he has reached the chequered flag.
Brawn, however, feels Hamilton's error countered what unfolded to Max Verstappen given the Dutch driver failed to finish following the tyre failure.
"It was a test of character for Lewis this weekend," said Brawn, via his regular post-race column. "Generally he was coming through it very well.
"To have a car that looked so off pace on Friday and get it into a better space on Saturday was a good step. It wasn’t the fastest car, but he knew he could do something with it.
"He was doing a pretty good job and then I don’t know what happened at the restart. He said it was a switch issue.
"It was obvious the rear brakes were clearly very hot. It didn’t even look close that he was going to make the corner.
"But after Max’s accident, it keeps the championships wide open. While Mercedes and Lewis will be unhappy, given Max’s misfortune, it kind of balances out."
Mercedes woe and Red Bul rise ensures title battle
Despite Mercedes suffering its worst two-race run of the Hamilton era, Brawn has no doubt the team will return to form at more conventional tracks approaching given the car's dislike for street circuits.
"It was unusual for Mercedes to come to a race with a car so out of shape," added Brawn.
"It could be that following their difficulties in Monaco, they decided to take a different path, and that’s what put them so out of shape on Friday.
"If I had trouble with tyre temperatures like they did in Monaco, I would have been pushing to try a different direction. So their struggles on Friday could have been a result of that.
"It is possible that when we get back to races where they have more confidence and it’s a known platform, Mercedes will be back to their best.
"They have always struggled a bit at street circuits. Those have never been their strength."
Brawn feels that given the form of both Mercedes and Red Bull, the championship race is shaping up to be a titanic struggle.
"Red Bull started this year hot, which is the complete opposite of what they did last year," assessed Brawn. "They didn’t come into their own until the second half of the year so their start is an encouraging sign.
"If they can continue this momentum and keep taking the fight to Mercedes, we are in for quite a battle."
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