Lewis Hamilton says upgraded Mercedes has improved but ‘a bit of a shame’ not closer to front at Monaco GP
Mercedes debut long-awaited upgrades at Monaco GP; W14 has new sidepods, floor and front suspension; Lewis Hamilton third and sixth in Friday’s practice sessions but still half a second off leading times; watch the Monaco GP on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
Last Updated: 26/05/23 6:19pm
Lewis Hamilton says he could feel the improvements in Mercedes’ upgraded W14 during Friday practice at the Monaco GP but conceded it was “a bit of a shame” not to be closer to the front.
Hamilton was third fastest in the opening practice session before finishing sixth in Practice Two, although the W14 remained half a second off the leading times set by Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen respectively in each session.
Mercedes debuted their long-awaited updates in Monte Carlo – featuring new sidepods, floor and front suspension – and while Hamilton felt there were positive signs, he is unsure if the Silver Arrows will be in the fight for pole on Saturday in Monaco’s crucial qualifying session.
“I’ve generally had an amazing day. I really enjoyed driving today. It’s not the place to ultimately test an upgrade but the car was generally feeling good,” Hamilton said.
“A bit of a shame we weren’t as close as I’d have hoped at the end of the session but definitely felt the improvements and we’ve just got to keep chipping away at it and see if we can squeeze any more juice out of the car.
“There is [one area where seeing most improvement] and it’s very clear where the lack of performance is for me and so we’ll talk about that in the debrief, put our heads together and try and figure out how we can do that within what we have and hopefully this gives us a platform to build on moving forwards.
“In P1 I thought maybe we were looking pretty good but we’re always looking pretty good in P1 for some reason. In [the second session] we were close to half a second off and maybe that could have been three tenths but I don’t think we have half a second in the bag. We’ll see, we’ll work on it and see if we can squeeze more out of it tonight.”
Russell: We need to find qualifying pace
George Russell had a more difficult day than Hamilton with Mercedes comparing set-ups across cars as they sought to find the right direction to go with.
Russell was only 15th in Practice One, 1.6 seconds off Sainz’s best time, and then 12th in Practice Two, seven tenths off Verstappen’s benchmark.
The 25-year-old feels there is a good base performance in the W14 but is envisioning another tricky Saturday around the streets of Monte Carlo.
“Qualifying is the most important part of the weekend and is a part of the weekend where we generally struggle, we always do better on a Sunday,” Russell said.
“We need to try and figure some stuff out overnight. There are definitely some positive signs to take from the session, definitely improved from FP1, it’s never easy around this place.
“We know that the base performance of the car is good and we normally maybe overachieve on a Sunday and underachieve on Saturday so we need to try and flip those over this weekend. It’s a matter of moments and sometimes a bit baked into the car so I’m not expecting tomorrow to be an easy day. We’ll work hard and see what we can do.
“We hope we’re with Aston and Ferrari – that’s where we’re aiming towards, obviously Red Bull are a little bit in a league of their own at the moment. The midfield is tight and we’ve seen a number of times this year that a McLaren or an Alpine or even a Haas jumps ahead of us on a Saturday but they’re nowhere on a Sunday.
“If they do manage to do that this Saturday they will probably be with us this Sunday so we need to work on our qualifying pace for this event and re-assess the car globally next weekend.”
More to follow…
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