(Motorsport-Total.com) – No, Lewis Hamilton wasn’t satisfied with Friday’s free practice in Hungary (Formula 1 2023 is on tape). The seven-time world champion says his Mercedes felt worse than it did in practice in Hungary.
A Mercedes is hiding somewhere in this photo
Hamilton finished the second practice session in Budapest in dry conditions in 16th (+1.060sec), teammate George Russell only last (+1.489), as both were on only one set of medium tyres.
Although Hamilton knew the team drove a different program than everyone else, the feeling in the W14 was rather negative: “I didn’t feel good,” he says. “I felt like it was the worst car we had today.”
“But we’re going to work on the setup tonight and hopefully that changes tomorrow, like last year when I felt bad at the start. We’re working on that tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be better,” said Hamilton, who finished 11th on Friday and seventh in qualifying in 2022 but shared a podium with Russell in the race.
Russell: It’s always bad on Fridays
Russell was a little more optimistic about Mercedes’ current state, knowing that his team often struggles on Fridays before steadily improving as the weekend progresses.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel that bad,” he says. “Obviously we had a completely different program than everyone else because we only used one set of tyres. And those were the tires used from the first practice session.”
“So the lap times aren’t really meaningful and I’m sure tomorrow will be better. But we’re still focused on improving,” said the Briton, who is aware Mercedes will not look as strong on Friday.
“We always know we’re getting better as the weekend progresses and that’s a good thing,” he says. “We also learned some interesting things in this session, so let’s see what we can do tonight.”
Tires are still an issue
According to Russell, the improvements should focus on better tire management, both during the qualifying warm-up and in the race: “We’re having grip issues,” he points out. “I don’t think the tires are in the right window, either with low or high fuel consumption.”
It was also noticeable to Hamilton, who complained on the radio that he had no grip. Then race engineer Peter Bonnington had to get him back on track: “Lewis, that long-term data is very useful. Others seem to have similar problems.”
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“We just have to figure out why that is,” says Russell. “Whether we need to do faster or slower in qualifying, whether we need to do more or run more in the race,” said Russell.
“Those things are sometimes a little tricky when you’re in the cockpit without being able to look at the data to understand if the tires are on the cooler side or the hotter side and what exactly do you need to be a little faster.”
“Like I said, it certainly wasn’t our best day. But it’s not the first time I’ve said it on a Friday night. And Saturday and Sunday are often better.”
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