‘It’s a kick in the gut’ – Hamilton left frustrated as Mercedes tumble down the Friday practice timesheets in Miami
Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Mercedes dropping from the top of the order to the midfield on the first day of practice for the Miami Grand Prix was “difficult to take”, describing his afternoon at the wheel as “a struggle”.
Hamilton backed up team mate George Russell in a one-two for the Silver Arrows during FP1, only for the pair to fall to seventh and 15th respectively in FP2, with the seven-time champion almost a second off the pace set by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
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Having described the early-race Safety Car that scuppered his efforts last time out in Azerbaijan as a “kick in the teeth”, Hamilton used a similar analogy when assessing Mercedes’ performance so far this weekend.
“Same as every weekend… That we’re a second down,” he said, when asked what had been learned from Friday’s running. “It’s a great weekend, it’s a great place to be, lots of positives, it’s just we are not particularly quick. It’s a struggle out there. We’re trying lots of different things.
“FP1 looked quite good, and then we come into FP2, and the true pace come out. It’s just a kick in the gut, so it’s a little bit difficult to take sometimes. But it’s okay, we will just continue to work on it, we will regroup tonight and try and see if we can make some set-up changes and get the car in a sweeter spot.”
Asked how the W14 feels compared to Australia, where Mercedes qualified second and third, and Azerbaijan a few days ago, Hamilton pointed to overheating tyres as a key issue, saying: “Melbourne obviously was night and day difference – [it was] much, much nicer to drive there. Baku felt better than here also.
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“I think maybe the heat or maybe just the balance we have at the moment… I’m going to stay optimistic, I’m going to stay hopeful that we can get the car in a better place tomorrow and maybe be a couple steps up. But it feels like, apart from… Last year we had hardcore bouncing [and] it genuinely feels like we are racing pretty much the same car – that’s the difficult thing.”
Conceding that reaching Q3 would represent a positive result, Hamilton added: “As I said, I am trying to stay positive with it. We are working as hard as we can, it’s just we desperately need upgrades, that’s for sure. [We’ve] just got to keep our head down for one more race and hopefully we can start a new path [at the] next race.”
Russell expressed similar feelings to Hamilton as he dissected the opening day of action, recalling a similar downfall for Mercedes during F1’s first visit to the Miami International Autodrome.
“It was a similar thing last year,” began Russell, who was 1.286 seconds away from pace-setter Verstappen. “We were quickest on Friday and then we were knocked out in Q2 on Saturday. The car just changed a little bit.
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“Even from the medium run in FP2, I felt strong, I was on a lap that was a good couple of tenths up, which would have put me inside the top four, and then we put the soft tyres on and the car just wasn’t working for me. I think we understand a little bit why that is and fortunately we’ve got the time to make improvements overnight. But yeah, it’s fine margins.”
As for where he feels Mercedes can be when qualifying arrives, Russell commented: “I think if we get things right there’s no reason why we can’t be ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin – that’s the aim.
“I think we’ve seen in these first four races now that it’s really tight between those three teams. If only if that was for the win and for pole position! It would be incredibly exciting. It’s good because it shows that if we get things right we can be rewarded and jump ahead of them.”