Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2021

Hamilton did Friday morning “practice session” in simulator to aid pole bid

2021 British Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton revealed he spent Friday morning in Mercedes’ simulator to help raise the team’s performance before topping qualifying for the first time in six races.

Under the new format being used this weekend, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s first sprint qualifying race from the front of the grid, putting himself in the best possible position to claim pole for the grand prix.

As today’s single, one-hour practice session did not begin until half past two in the afternoon, Hamilton used the morning to travel to Mercedes’ factory in nearby Brackley and conduct development work. Mercedes has introduced an aerodynamic upgrade to its W12 this weekend.

“I was in the factory on the sim on Tuesday and again we had this morning free and I was like, look, [I’m] not going to sit around and waste time, let’s get to it.

“So we did a practice session this morning on there, just trying to develop it, trying to give the guys as much information as possible so as we’re developing the car. We’re squeezing absolutely every every ounce of performance from this thing, but it was holding together today. So I’m over the moon.”

Red Bull were fastest by over seven-tenths of a second in practice, but Mercedes hit back in qualifying, which they led for the 10th consecutive occasion at Silverstone.

“I don’t know what they were doing in there,” said Hamilton. “They were very quick, obviously, in that practise session, but we were just staying focussed on our job and trying to layer up.”

Hamilton’s first run in Q3 earned him pole position for the sprint qualifying race. His second lap was initially quicker, but he lost time when he made a mistake at Vale.

“That first lap was great,” said Hamilton. “The second one was looking even better, but just lost the back end in that last corner, so my heart was in my mouth as I came across the line.

“But I could see the crowd and it was really reminiscent of my first pole here in 2007. I couldn’t have done it without all these guys here, so a big, big thank you.”

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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 did Friday morning “practice session” in simulator to aid pole bid”

  1. I know AWS graphics could be inaccurate, but I remember in Austria and France, Hamilton was extracting 95% of the car’s maximum performance in the corners. Today, it showed that he was extracting 97% of that. I wonder if this is representative because he was fastest today. Also, I wonder… is that percentage related to Hamilton’s driving limit of the car on the setup he is running? Or is it related to the car’s full theoretical performance on a perfect setup? Because the graphic can mean that Hamilton can be driving just 95% of the car’s full potential but also the car can have a poor setup accounting for the 5% remainder. I wonder if Mercedes have managed to unlock something from the W12 in terms of setup.

    1. I think these are all great questions and a reason why it’s hard to put any stock in those AWS numbers. The Sky commentators swore that AWS has team data no one else has but even if they have all the traces, data, etc., you would need a super sophisticated physics model and modelling of the track and the effect of the surface from temperature etc to say whether a driver got 95.6 or 95.7 percent of the performance on a given lap. I’m skeptical this means more than their tire-wear graphic. I mean does AWS know whether there was a bit of gravel or dirt on the track or a gust of wind or car 5 seconds ahead and factor that in?

    2. I think we should get rid of the AWS predictions altogether.

      They may be right, but the price is too high if they are wrong. The driver’s reputations are at stake here. Seems like F1 has stopped caring about its drivers or the latter has even less say in affairs.

    3. As @dmw writes, just forget about the AWS numbers @krichelle. They are more or less just the fastest sectors of a driver put together and then comparing how many of those they managed to get together in a single lap.

      Maybe in a year or 2 their AI system will have learnt enough about F1 cars, about track evolution, about different tyre compounds, the weather, time of day and just simple mistakes to be able to accurately estimate the effect of the driver doing their thing in the cars. But for now, it really doesn’t give any new or dependable information.

      1. That’s not true at all. AWS uses streaming data from the cars to build an AI neural network (SageMaker), which then predicts the limits and battle stats etc (they already take into account the factors you’ve mentioned, and more).

  2. This is interesting, as Lewis has frequently said in the past that he’s not a fan of the simulator.

  3. This is interesting, as Lewis has frequently said in the past that he’s not a fan of the simulator.

    1. Sorry, its not that interesting

  4. Looks like it just made them go backward like in Austria as they were miles off in early practice

    1. This didn’t age well.

      1. Your comment didn’t. Just like in Austria Hamilton had heroically been at the simulator, which they openly admitted caused them to go in a wrong direction. Only when backtracking to a regular known setup did they find speed for qualifying. And the same seemed to happen here. Way off in practice with the new simulator setup, but then found speed for qualifying again.

  5. …I was like, look, [I’m] not going to sit around and waste time, let’s get to it.

    Competition is a great motivator. I’m sure there were times when Lewis believed he didn’t need to do any practice before a Grand prix, but now that he’s second in the WDC he needs to be driving his car at the edge of it’s performance window. I guess one question is was Valtteri there too?

  6. Lewis seems very old school in this regard. One thing that is remarkable about him is how he is able maintain a lot of activities outside the sport and not have his performance suffer for it. A lot of athletes seem to be unable to do that. His newfound enthusiasm for the simulator suggests that the passion and will to win is still there despite all of his previous achievements.

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