Everything started so well for Mercedes with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton taking first and second position in the first practice session for the Formula 1 race in Miami, but practice two in the afternoon was “a punch in the gut”, as the seven-time world champion. The Silver Arrows were a long way from a good performance as Hamilton claims the car is now worse than previous Grand Prix.
Hamilton was still the much better-positioned driver in seventh place, but was still a second behind the fastest driver in practice, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. Team-mate Russell ended up in 15th position, just under 1.3 seconds behind.
Hamilton: Same old story every weekend
“It’s just the same as every weekend: We’re missing a second,” Hamilton lamented. “We’re not particularly quick. We’re struggling and just trying a lot of different things.”
The first practice still looked good from his point of view, “but then in the second practice the real pace comes out and that’s just a punch in the gut,” said the Mercedes driver, who does not attribute it to any single problem, but rather the entire car at fault.
Verstappen Tops Free Practice 2
Max Verstappen set the fastest time in front of the Scuderia Ferraris, while Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc finished second and third respectively. Verstappen consolidated his lead with soft tyres.
Verstappen’s fastest lap was 1m 27.930s, four-tenths of a second faster than Sainz’s. Leclerc was just a tenth of a second behind Sainz but brought out the only red flag of the session when he crashed into the barriers at Turn 7.
Given that he had complained of discomfort with his ‘HANS protection device’, Verstappen’s fastest lap was impressive.
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Hamilton not pleased with Mercedes
Comparing it to Melbourne, where Mercedes did well, was “a difference like night and day”, Hamilton said.
“It was much better to drive, and Baku felt better than here as well,” Hamilton said. “Maybe it’s just the heat or the balance we have at the moment.”
He stresses that he is trying to remain optimistic and that he hopes the car will be better on Saturday, “but generally it feels like we’re running virtually the same car as last year – apart from the hardcore bouncing, that’s the difficult thing.” Hamilton said, who had famously complained that his Mercedes team had not listened to him when designing the W14 2023 F1 car.
He is therefore longing for the big Imola upgrade that Mercedes “desperately” needs. For with the current car, he has “no expectations” for qualifying tomorrow. “I just hope we will be in a better position. I hope we can be in Q3 and be in the top 10 field. That would be great.”
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Hamilton demands design change – “100%”
Publicly throwing the team under the bus this year, Hamilton has persisted in his criticism of the Mercedes technical team’s design most recently suggesting the driver’s position in the car was “all wrong.”, amongst other things.
“We sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers,” said Hamilton in Australia. “Our cockpit is too close to the front.”
Lewis claimed had he known what the technical team were doing with this aspect of the car, “It wouldn’t have happened,” adding, “100%… it has to change in the future.”
Now with the poor performance in Miami, Hamilton again suggests that the car is simply ‘wrong’ and needs a clean sheet if they’re ever to start moving forward again, evidenced by his statements that ‘Imola can’t come fast enough’ after FP2 yesterday.
Russell sees battle with Ferrari and Aston Martin
Teammate Russell doesn’t see things quite so black and white, despite his 15th place: he sees “no reason” why Mercedes shouldn’t be ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin in qualifying. “At least that’s the aim,” he stresses.
“In the first four races it was pretty close between the three teams. If this was just about winning or pole position then that would be incredibly exciting,” Russell said.
brad pitt in an f1 car pic.twitter.com/vr4QU8VEJF
— meg¹ 🏻 (@maxsredbull) May 4, 2023
“But it’s good because it shows we can be rewarded and get in front of them if we get it right.”
That will also be the task for tomorrow, Saturday: “We need to make some improvements overnight,” he urges.
“We know we have the potential because we saw it in the first practice and at the beginning of the second practice.”
But why things didn’t go so well after that is the question that needs to be answered. Russell says that after switching to soft tyres, the car “just wasn’t working for me”.
“We need to understand why that is, but luckily we have time to make changes overnight.”
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Somebody didn’t proof read this article before posting. I think it should say ‘Russell didn’ t see things quite so bleak’.
Hamilton is a slow learner, in addition to being arrogant and acting entitled. He can never accept that he is the problem, constantly pointing fingers at others.
It does not need a brilliant mind to conclude that he is an overrated driver who has had it good for too long in the cheating Mercedes car. We have to suffer his oral diarrhea until he retires, I suppose. But even then he may not stop, spewing drivel under the guise of an ambassador for Mercedes.
This is so much more satisfying than I thought it would be. And now Russel is taking the king of wingers title or at least battling Louise for it.