Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes W13 Formula 1 car is going from bad to worse rather than improving. After the Friday sessions in Montreal, the former world champion appeared irritated despite his teams’ best efforts to improve the car. Hamilton slams the new car declaring it totally undrivable. Meanwhile team mate George Russell remains optimistic.
“I’ve never felt this bad in a car here, before,” said Lewis Hamilton after Friday’s Formula 1 practice in Canada. Mercedes had once again used the two sessions in Montreal for experimentation, sending Hamilton off with a new floor in the first session and then trying two completely different set-up directions in the afternoon.
While George Russell at least finished seventh (+0.844), Hamilton ended up only 13th, nearly 1.3 seconds behind, and ranting about an “undriveable” car. After practice, he described in detail how awful it was for him on track.
“Nothing we’re doing with the car seems to be working,” he lamented, including the new floor with the large cut-out that he had tried in the first practice. “George and I then went to different set-ups in the second practice to see if one worked and one didn’t.”
“It was a disaster for me,” he says plainly. “It’s like the car is getting worse and worse. Like it gets more and more unhappy the more we do with it.”
The stiff car is particularly unable to cope over the high kerbs in Montreal:
“I touch a kerb and the thing goes flying,” Hamilton says, describing it as a “monumental struggle” to keep the car off the wall. “When it bounces, the car takes off enormously, and when it lands, it gets grip and goes in completely different directions.”
Hamilton has won seven times in Montreal, including his first ever Formula One victory at this track, but this, he says, is no longer the Montreal he knows: “I’ve never felt this bad in a car here, before” he expresses in shock.
For team mate George Russell, Friday wasn’t all bad, although he admits that “our performance is not where we would have liked it to be. We’re pretty far off the pace when you compare it to the top two teams.”
He also describes the car’s stiffness over the kerbs as “brutal”, yet he said he enjoyed it on track.
Russell has not lost his optimism yet and is convinced Mercedes will find the right balance from the two set-up experiments: “We will work hard and just have to make sure we qualify ahead of the midfield,” he says.
For him, the Mercedes is still a car that can place him third among the field , but if you listen to Hamilton’s statements, you might come to a different conclusion. The seven-time world champion would almost write off the W13. Because after all the failed experiments, he has little hope for improvement.
“It is what it is. This is the car we have for this year,” he says. “We just have to hang in there and work hard to build a better car for next year.”
They also can’t seem to get a handle on the porpoising issue with their two underbody variations. Russell went with a second underbody brace in the first practice session, Hamilton with a large notch – but apparently none of it helped.
“The picture here looks similar to Monaco and Baku, where ground clearance troubled the car in both slow and fast corners,” said senior race engineer Andrew Shovlin.
“We went through the settings available to us but only found various compromises in ride height and downforce without a significant overall performance improvement,” he admits. “The balance was not great with both little and more fuel in the tank.”
“But although the ground clearance issues make that worse, we can probably make some progress on that overnight.
“We lack grip on the rear axle in particular, which I think we can improve with the normal set-up tools.”
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