Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2019

Hamilton surprised to be so close to Ferrari

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said he was surprised to be within a tenth of a second of Ferrari pace-setter Charles Leclerc at the end of the first day of practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

Before the weekend began Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff warned the team’s car was “not ideal for a track where straight line speed is a key performance differentiator”, such as Monza. But Hamilton ended second practice just 68 thousandths of a second off Leclerc’s best time.

“Definitely it is surprising,” Hamilton admitted. “Honestly I didn’t know what to expect this weekend.

“We expected them to be quick on the straight which they are but there’s enough corners on which we’re able to gain it back. They’re not really that quick through the corners so it kind of balances it out.”

Mercedes’ Friday practice performance has given Hamilton added confidence for the rest of the weekend. “I still think it’s going to be a really hard race but we are on a similar level which is quite nice,” he said.

Both today’s sessions were affected by rain. Tomorrow is expected to be dry but there is a chance of further rain on Sunday. Hamilton said this is not something the team will make allowances for in its set-up.

“We don’t really prepare for rain in the sense of getting the set-up for the rain. We’re prepared to try and make the car as quick as we can do on a single lap and then deal with it once it does rain.

“So right now just really need to go through the data with a fine comb, try and see where we can improve, where I can improve as a driver. If there’s any performance, whether it’s gear shift points, whether it’s braking points, whether it’s using kerb or not using kerb, wherever it may be, and also the set-up to make sure we squeeze an extra bit of juice out of the car.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Hamilton surprised to be so close to Ferrari”

  1. The red cars have sandbags on ‘em.

    1. Mercedes sandbags have more downforce.

    2. @lums the speedtraps were topped by merc cars, Bottas clocked 340 kph. Either Ferrari has more or merc showed their hand.

      I predicted that the canada spec was limiting merc, they were only running high-ish power in q3. Now that they shrugged that spec away and the spa fears, I can see them spoiling the party tomorrow, that is if the result of the testing today, pushing the PU, was successful.

  2. Hamilton is also still suprised he won a championchip with Merc: what a god awfull dog of a car and engine has the merc been these years..

    1. No he’s not. So who is it that gets to you? The real Hamilton or the make believe one in your head that says the things only you can hear?

        1. Man remember the days when jokes were funny and not just an excuse when someone gets called out for saying something dumb.

    2. @riptide Ian Darling, you cant a joke too well.

  3. Wouldn’t we expect having the engines turned down to affect the car with more straight line performance? Merc will still have their advantage in the corners, but Ferrari will show less of those straight line advantage. But once they turn the engines up Ferrari will be faster on the straights.

    It is wet anyway.

    1. Ferrari straight line advantage is more dye to lower drag than to more power. So they both turned down their PU’S during practice, but we won’t know how much, but Ferrari will retain it’s lower drag in practice. Drag is much more important in determining straight line speed (both top speed and total time down the straight ) than peak horsepower is.

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