George Russell, Sergio Perez, Yas Marina, 2022

Red Bull quicker in Abu Dhabi but Mercedes are “right there” – Hamilton

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes face stronger competition from Red Bull in Abu Dhabi than they did in Brazil, but believes they can compete with their rivals.

Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix one week ago and scored a one-two in the race. But Hamilton says “it’s a little bit closer” between them and the champions this weekend.

“I think the Red Bull look a little bit quicker here, which was expected, we didn’t expect this to be our strongest race. So we’ll work hard overnight. We’re generally right here so hopefully we can put on a good fight.

Hamilton was quickest in the first practice session but ended the second session fourth in the times. “P1 felt pretty good,” he said. “In P2 the balance was quite a bit off.

“I made some changes between one and two which weren’t the right ones. So a bit of a struggle in P2 just with a lot of overtseer, that was mostly my limitation. So we’ll make some changes overnight. But otherwise we were relatively competitive, we’re right there.”

While Mercedes have tended to be more competitive in races than in qualifying sessions this year, Hamilton’s team mate George Russell suspects Red Bull’s advantage could be greater over a race stint this weekend.

“I think we had a very strong day in terms of what we’ve learned,” he explained. “We did quite a lot of test items especially on my side in FP1 looking ahead to 2023. This is one of our last opportunities to test.

“In FP2 obviously cooler track temperature, the track changed completely and it felt fast out there but I think Red Bull just have the legs on us. Over a single lap they’re probably two tenths [faster], long run maybe even further. So we have a little bit of work to do overnight but compared to Ferrari it looks reasonable.”

However Russell also believes Mercedes are close enough to get within range of Red Bull. “I think we’ll be fighting for it,” he said. “I’d like to think we can fight for the top three in qualifying and who knows where that can take us on Sunday.”

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2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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16 comments on “Red Bull quicker in Abu Dhabi but Mercedes are “right there” – Hamilton”

  1. It’s really good to see Mercedes near the top. Love or hate them, they are the only team who can consistently fight RedBull all season long. Ferrari started strong, but their race pace was never as good as the RedBull and their single lap pace seems to have now dropped behind Mercedes.

    Good signs of a closer battle next season. RedBull do look to still have a sizeable edge, however, if this the season started how it’s ending then it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as easy for RedBull.

    1. Agreed, though it’s hard to tell how much of this carries over into the 2023 season. How many times did Red Bull end the season strong only for Mercedes to utterly dominate the start of the next one? Red Bull has no doubt started spending big on the 2023 project quite some time ago.

      Still, it’s always good for the neutral viewer when there are multiple teams in the mix. Even if it’s just for these couple of races, it still beats having to see Red Bull so far ahead as in Belgium or Japan.

  2. It is always this: Hamilton refuses to say Max is quickest. He always says RBR are quicker when it is obvious that only Max is actually quicker than Mercedes. Perez and Lawson were not even close to fastest the times of the Mercedes drivers.
    It is time for Hamilton to accept that RBR is quicker only when the Dutchman is at the wheel.

    1. Isn’t that what RBR used to say about Hamilton 😀

    2. Last time I checked, Checo, a consistently average driver (no disrespect to the guy), is well ahead of the Mercedes pair and Sainz on the standings, and tied with Leclerc which many would argue is a much more talented driver. So either Checo is faster than Lewis, Russel, Leclerc and Sainz, or RBR is indeed the faster car. I think most people would agree it’s the latter.

    3. I think most drivers have did this since f1 began, for example alpine refer to their fight with the McLarens but it’s lando they are racing against.

    4. Because this is what others including Max’s fan base keep repeating. Whenever Lewis did well it was the Merc that was fast not Lewis. So when the shoe is on the other foot why does it irk you so much that Lewis sings the same narrative regarding RB/Max?

      1. I think the point is that it’d be just as quick if not quicker with Hamilton, leclerc, Russell, Alonso and perhaps many others at the wheel. The fact Perez is awful I’ve done lap doesn’t mean the RedBull is a slow car and Max is some kind of miracle.

        To illustrate the point Lawson on his first time of driving it was able to get close to Perez on harder tyres! P5 in the overall standings. If that doesn’t highlight how good the RedBull car is then nothing will.

        Stick Lawson in any other car and there’s no chance he’s not making the top 5.

      2. Because Lewis talks nonsense. Just compare the statistics of MB and RBR over the years. At MB the car made the difference, at RBR it’s the driver.

    5. Alex, since newcomer Liam Lawson finished fifth in FP1 driving the Red Bull, isn’t it fair to say that the Red Bulls must be fast for him to turn in that sort of performance. I’d also point out that LH said the Red Bulls were fast, (rather than specifically MV), but qualified that by saying he thought the Mercedes would be right there, (rather than saying himself), and that seems a pretty fair comparison to me.

  3. I could find a hundred quotes over the last 8 years where various drivers stated the Mercedes was quicker, when Hamilton was out front and his teammate was nowhere.

    Stop crying.

    1. +1 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex was one of those referring to Mercedes rather than Hamilton…

    2. His team mate was usually second, especially in qualifying…

  4. I don’t think it makes any difference if I am referring to Mercedes and not to Hamilton or Bottas or Rosberg when they were winning. I am just a spectator after all. What caught my eyes was Hamilton doing this. But I think Steven get a point, other drivers do the same. And I really admire Hamilton’s achievements and I think he is bloody fast. He just seems to struggle to recognize a faster driver, that’s all. No big deal.

    1. All drivers, ALL of them struggle to recognise a faster driver, they are absolute egomaniac’s and cannot conceive of someone being faster, better, more talented then themselves. So it HAS to be the car, a cheat, a trick, biased officials….. Anything and everything except another drivers natural ability. Even in lower categories it’s always a better cart. Even in bicycles it’s always a better bike or better drugs.

      1. There are exceptions though: irvine admitted schumacher was faster, I think coulthard too.

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