Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2019

Hamilton surprised by Mercedes’ 0.7-second lead over rivals

2019 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he was surprised Mercedes ended Thursday practice for the Monaco Grand Prix over seven-tenths of a second quicker than their closest rivals.

“I don’t know where all the time has come from,” said Hamilton, who was less than a tenth of a second faster than team mate Valtteri Bottas in both of today’s sessions.

“But we’re constantly improving this car and understanding it and understanding the tyre. Those things come together and I guess that’s why you’re seeing the performance advantage we have.”

Hamilton said he’d only made minor changes to the car in the course of today’s running. Max Verstappen split the Mercedes pair during first practice, but a damaged radiator limited his running in the second session.

“[I’m] really quite happy with the set-up,” said Hamilton. “We’ve just been making small tweaks over the two sessions and even in the sessions making a couple of small tweaks.

“It’s a surprise to see the delta we had in [second practice]. I don’t know if maybe Max didn’t get his time or something like that.

“But the performance is fantastic, it’s incredible every year we come here we get this faster. And it’s that much faster you notice it when you’re going past the barriers and touching them you definitely notice you’re going quicker this year.”

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Gabriele Koslowski
Gabriele Koslowski first began following Formula 1 during the early noughties, and is a director of a Belgian motorsport media company. During the past...

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33 comments on “Hamilton surprised by Mercedes’ 0.7-second lead over rivals”

  1. Why are they still surprised?

    1. I don’t think he’s saying that he’s surprised that he and Bottas are fast. I think he and Mercedes expected Ferrari to sort their issues out by now and are surprised that they are still slower than expected.

      1. At this point, IF Ferrari sort out their problems THAT would be a surprise. They are doomed this year.. The past two years we had half year championships because Ferrari were fast from the start of the season and were eventually out developed. But this year they are crap out of the box, so its all dark and gloomy my friend.

        1. Staggering donkey
          23rd May 2019, 23:41

          Let’s be honest, if Vettel had been able to keep his car pointing in the right direction and on the track during a few more races last year then there would have been a full year championship! Ferrari weren’t out developed last year, their lead driver was out driven.

        2. I don’t think they’re crap out of the box. They were the quickest car in Bahrain (race 2) and at least one of the Ferraris had the pace to be on the front row, and possibly pole, in Baku… But unfortunately, he put it in the wall in Q2.

          They just seem really poor in operations right now. The engineering team is a bit confused, the strategy team is filled with low iq personnel, and the team boss is inefficient at managing their drivers.

          When it comes to in season development…. You’re right… Mercedes is far superior to Ferrari and extend their advantage over the course of the season.

          I don’t think Ferrari were doomed at the start of the season because of a bad car. They’re doomed because they’re a bad team.

  2. Imagine working for Mercedes- it must be nail biting stuff, one completely unexpected one-two underdog victory out of the blue after the other

    1. Daimler Benz have a long and glorious history in Grand Prix Racing. Their success is comes from brilliant engineering and incredible attention to detail. I recommend you read about the 1939 Tripoli Grand Prix when Italy changed the rules at very short notice [to a formula for which they already had fully developed cars] in an attempt to beat the Silver Arrows.

      Daimler Benz entered 2 cars and finished one-two, totally dominating the Italian teams.

    2. Staggering donkey
      24th May 2019, 7:00

      Yeah imagine working for Mercedes, the challenge of outdeveloping the competition, the satisfaction of seeing that car win week after week, year after year, of car and driver setting records and your small part of that, knowing how good it’ll be on your cv and there’s a big fat bonus at the seasons end…… must be hell!!

  3. Liar, how the hell can he be surprised when they win every race. What a joke!

  4. Who would have thought a rule change would benefit the best team and increase the gap? It’s not like we saw it during the Mosley era? /irony

    Such a shame when Red Bull was inching toward winning pace and really getting close toward the end of last season.

    I hope people are happy with their ‘easy overtaking’ following the rules (order) upheaval.

    1. All thanks to Ross brawn, liberty media and the fia. All rushed through because the Australian gp was boring despite the fact the Australian gp is always boring. And to top it off it seems to be even harder for cars to overtake. Just think when we finished the season last year Mercedes, Ferrari and red bull were so close to each other on race pace. Ross brawn and liberty media have got what they wanted though more Mercedes dominance and the fans now will except all their changes for 2021 no matter how bad they are.

    2. IMO , RB were only getting close at the end of last season due to the number of Pus they got through. Merc were nursing their Pus through to the end of the season to ensure they made it to the end on the prescribed 3 Pus. RB had what…10 Pus? Which meant they could afford to run them at 11 and be damned with the cobsequences…hence there massive explosion rate. The only places RB were geuinely competetive was Mexico and Monaco.

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      24th May 2019, 8:24

      It’s mostly Red Bull that keeps complaining that the rules should change so they have a shot at coming out on top after the reshuffle.

      Oddly though, Newey is not really any good at big changes. He’s more about incremental updates. Eeeking out more and more performance with small changes.

      Indeed Red Bull keep failing every time the rules change significantly. Obviously already for 2014. Even though it was Renault that kept pushing for an engine rule change, they were last in the pecking order. Then a rule change was invented for 2017 to appease Red Bull’s constant complaints about PU dependency. More aero was applied and Red Bull was bound to sweep the field with the help of Newey’s aero genius. Yet again Red Bull faltered though. Then for 2019 Newey was helping full time to make sure this time Red Bull finally be fighting for the championships. Again they failed.

      Although the tyre issues which Ferrari and Red Bull appear to be having (more so than Mercedes) are more likely masking the actual performance of those cars. Things could quickly change if especially Ferrari with their most powerful engine finally understand the tyres.

  5. georgeboole (@)
    23rd May 2019, 21:24

    I m surprised Lewis is surprised and not Toto…

    1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      24th May 2019, 9:14

      @georgeboole it was his turn, 23 is an odd day. Toto is surprised on even days.

      1. HAHAHAHA good one

  6. ColdFly (@)
    23rd May 2019, 21:57

    With Gasly ‘only’ 0.8s behind (and Albon 0.9s) I guess that Verstappen will be a lot closer tomorrow.
    The Ferraris are unlikely to be a real challenge.

    1. @coldfly Apparently Hamilton’s opinion too, it’s clear how highly he rates him:

      I don’t know if maybe Max didn’t get his time or something like that.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        24th May 2019, 8:25

        @david-br You mean how lowly he rates Gasly?

        1. @f1osaurus Both maybe. Actually I think Gasly has been improving over recent race weekends. But I’m sure Hamilton has in mind that Verstappen wasn’t far off his pace in qualifying at Singapore last year (similar track) where HAM produced one of his best ever laps.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            24th May 2019, 15:10

            @david-br Yes it’s about the car. Red Bull would their main opposition at tracks like Monaco and Singapore.

            Although with the tyres this year, it’s anybodies guess who gets them working.

  7. NeverElectric
    23rd May 2019, 23:14

    The real surprise is, of course, that the other teams are so slow. This is what is shocking me – and I think Lewis alludes to that when he talks about constantly improving the car being behind Mercedes’ superior pace. The unsaid comment there is that he is surprised the other teams are not able to keep up by improving their cars similarly.
    Of course, if he actually did come out and say he is surprised the other teams are not updating their cars to catch up, he’d be accused of monumental arrogance by the same people slagging him for saying he is surprised they’re so far ahead.
    If he said nothing, it would be “he feels too good to talk to the press”. Damned regardless of what he does.
    Sometimes, some people can’t win.

  8. I’m guessing his surprise is a result of being .7 quicker after running his usual 7/10ths practice pace.
    Inside, he’s probably thinking he should have sandbagged a little more.

  9. Ah that rule changes that Ross brawn, liberty media and the fia forced through last season have been a great success. When the f1 season ended last year Mercedes, Ferrari and red bull were so close on race pace that if they never forced these stupid new aero rules through we probably would have got a great season this year. But no, the Australian gp last year was boring (despite it being boring every year) we needed these rushed changes now, liberty media knows best. Good job.

    1. I think PU allocation had a lot to do with the 3 top teams being close at the end of last year. Ferrari and RB exceeded the 3 Pus, Merc didn’t and had to nurse them more to the end of the season, hence the pack closing up. Just my view of course.

    2. You’re right. All the top 3 were incredibly close. If we stuck with the same regulations, we would have had 3 teams battling at the front every race weeked.
      But to be fair to Brawn and the Fom, how are they supposed to predict when teams will close the gap and when will they extend. There was a good chance of Mercedes tripping up in the new rules changes… So it seemed justified at the time. How were they to know Ferrari would drop the ball again and Red bull would make a step backwards?

      Hindsight is always 20-20

  10. Credit where credit is due. Mercedes has a fantastic car. In Lewis a fantastic driver and Valtterie keeps up nicely. The only thing that can slow them down is hiring Alonso…

    1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      24th May 2019, 9:15

      @dutchtreat even the best Alonso can’t put this Mercedes out of 107%

  11. Surprised they are, but we are not surprised at their speed or at their surprise.

    After Spain, it was quite obvious they are faster in slow corners than even Red Bull, and they were always just as fast or faster in fast corners. In Monaco even the straight is bending slightly. 0.7s is a huge advantage. If they cannot win this one it will be because of rain or crash or both.

  12. F1oSaurus (@)
    24th May 2019, 8:31

    It’s just free practice anyway, but Verstappen is the only decent driver at Red Bull and he didn’t get much chance to set a fast lap.

  13. Lewis and Toto trying to make the season (and the hybrid era) look more exciting than it actually is. This includes constantly propping up their competition in the press, and creating a sense of uncertainty and hype.

    They are both good at marketing, but its getting a bit silly now.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      24th May 2019, 15:12

      @vjanik In FP1 Verstappen split the two Mercedes. So Red Bull clearly do have a competitive car here.

      1. Lol if you really think Redbull will get anywhere near Mercedes when they go into qualifying mode on Saturday, I wish you good luck.

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