For those who have followed Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One career its obvious the British champion is not one for flat lining. The highs are so high for Lewis but the lows are desperate and Hamilton started the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend on one of those lows.
With practice one washed out by rain, Hamilton completed the second Friday session in just 16th place while his team mate was bottom of the time sheets.
Hamilton my car “at its WORST”
“It wasn’t feeling good,” Hamilton told the assembled media. “It was feeling like the car at its worst today.”
Team mate George Russell was more optimistic with his assessment of the day’s running.
“It didn’t feel too bad in all honesty,” he said. “We were obviously on very different programmes to everybody else, as we only used one set of tyres throughout. It was a set of used tyres as well from FP1.
“So, the lap times don’t really give a true representation, and I’m sure tomorrow will be better. But we’re still just focused on trying to improve.”
Russell more optimistic
Mercedes often start their F1 weekends poorly but generally improve over the course of the weekend as Russell recognises.
“We always know that we sort of tend to get better as the weekend progresses, which is the right way round for it to be.”
Despite Hamilton’s despondent summary of Friday’s running just 24 hours later he was buzzing having claimed pole position from Max Verstappen by just 0.003s.
Mercedes fell away in race
Lando Norris was in the mix too and despite qualifying third expressed some regret he couldn’t find the hundredths of a second which separated him from the pole sitter.
Come the race and Hamilton failed to convert his pole position into anything meaningful. He lost out to a fast starting Verstappen and then failed to realise his route into turn one was blocked by the McLaren duo leaving him fourth after just one corner.
The McLaren pair pulled quickly away from Hamilton’s Mercedes and following the completed round of first pit stops the irate seven times champion demanded over team radio to know, “how’ve they got nine seconds all of a sudden? That’s a crazy amount!”
Lewis claims McLaren is faster
Lewis claimed later, “after that, just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the guys.”
“The balance in the car was pretty awful on that first stint, a lot of understeer and oversteer through corner balance and I just couldn’t keep up with them.
When informed of Lewis’ comments the usually calm and witty Lando Norris appeared to snap reminder his interviewer of Mercedes actual performances.
Norris calls out Hamilton’s whinging
“Mercedes were on pole here last year, and their car has been pretty good,” said Norris.
The British driver who claimed two second place podiums in the last two races appears irritated that Hamilton fails to recognise how well he and team mate Oscar Piastri are actually driving – giving their MCL60 car all the credit.
”I know Lewis complains a lot of how amazing our car is and how bad theirs is, but they don’t have a bad car. And they haven’t all season…
“Today, we struggled more than we would have liked. But we know this is an area for improvement. So yeah, I think it’s a positive surprise, again, to be where we are.
“We did a better job” – Norris
“But we have the same pace as Mercedes, it’s just we’ve done a better job. So I have to thank the whole team for that.”
Hamilton did recover to overtake the struggling Oscar Piastri towards the end of the race but the podium was out of reach for the frustrated driver.
Lewis is now six points behind third placed driver Fernando Alonso whose Aston Martin team after setting the early season pace have gone off the boil.
Alonso and Stroll trailed home in 9th and 10th respectively a far cry from Fernando’s second just weeks ago in Canada.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2023