Hamilton 'fighting the car' around Monaco as Mercedes pair target overnight improvements
It’s going to be a long night for the Silver Arrows after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell faced their respective struggles in Friday practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, with Hamilton in particular stressing that he found the 2022-spec cars a handful around these tight streets.
After a much-improved showing in Spain, Mercedes’ fortunes contrasted on Friday in Monaco with Lewis Hamilton finishing P10 then P12 in the respective practice sessions – Russell going P8 then P6. Hamilton then explained exactly why he struggled after finishing out of the top 10 in FP2.
“Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven, so that makes it one, difficult – but two, just generally our car bounces a lot. It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low-speed also, but it's not aero[-related].
“I think the bumps on the track just make it worse. But otherwise, I’m not really having to learn the track differently. Just fighting the car to put a lap together is [like]: ‘wow... holy crap! I don't remember experiencing it like that before’.”
The seven-time champion and three-time Monaco Grand Prix winner added that he’s expecting a battle with McLaren this weekend.
“As I said, putting the lap together is difficult, but I think we made some improvements going into that session [FP2]. And it doesn't even feel like, when you actually do try and put a lap together, the grip doesn't feel terrible.
“It's just your eyeballs are coming out of the sockets. So, we've got some work to do overnight to try and fix that. As anticipated, I didn't think we would be as quick as the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. Our battle is to try and stay ahead of the McLarens I think.”
Team mate Russell agreed, despite finishing in the top 10 in both sessions.
“I don't feel too bad after today,” he said. “I think I could be feeling better. I think it was a relatively good day but we're not where we want to be. We're P6, there's a McLaren ahead of us. We want to be best of the rest, I think that's going to be a fair result this weekend in the sense of behind Ferrari and Red Bull. But we need to make sure we don't have cheeky little Lando [Norris] popping it in there too.”
Russell added that the stiffer 2022-spec cars are making it even harder to put together a lap, something Hamilton alluded to in his comments above. Furthermore, Mercedes’ new recruit added that Ferrari aren’t struggling as much – and his squad have it all to do to catch up.
“Very, very stiff around a bumpy street circuit, it's not easy to put it on the limit, and I think that's one of the biggest difficulties. And I think Ferrari… we're seeing how good they've been over the kerbs. We saw it in Imola, they were just smashing over them with relative ease and it's obviously playing into their hands at the moment, so we've got a lot of work to do overnight.
“I'm not too sure we can really close that gap but nevertheless, it's always good fun driving around here.”