Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Hamilton calls Mercedes’ Miami practice pace “a kick in the guts”

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said it felt like a “kick in the guts” to realise how far away from the pace Mercedes are at the Miami Grand Prix.

The Mercedes pair ended the first practice session at the top of the times. The team admitted its pace was flattered by the fact they did low fuel runs at the end of the session in which track conditions improved rapidly.

The team looked in less positive shape by the end of second practice, however. Hamilton, the quickest of the team’s drivers, was only seventh-fastest, 0.928 seconds slower than pace-setter Max Verstappen.

“It’s the same as every weekend,” he said after the session. “We’re a second down.

“It’s a great weekend, it’s a great place to be, lots of positives. It’s just we’re not particularly quick. It’s a struggle out there, we’re just trying lots of different things.

“P1 looked quite good and then to come into P2 and the true pace comes out, it’s just this kick in the guts. So it’s a little bit difficult to take sometimes.

“But it’s okay, we’ll just keep on working on it and we’ll regroup tonight and try and see if we can make some set-up changes and get the car in a sweet spot.”

Hamilton said the car feels weaker than it did in the previous two rounds. “Melbourne obviously was night-and-day difference. Much, much nicer to drive there. Baku felt better than here also.

“I think maybe the heat or maybe it’s just the balance we have at the moment. So I’m going to stay optimistic and I’m going to stay hopeful that we can get the car in a better place tomorrow and maybe be a couple of steps up.

“But it feels like apart from last year we had hardcore bouncing, it generally feels like we’re racing pretty much the same car, and so that’s the difficult thing.”

Having been the only Mercedes driver to reach Q3 in grand prix qualifying last week, Hamilton said his target is to do the same again in Miami. “I hope that we can be in Q3 and I hope that we can be mid-bunch of that top 10, that would be great.”

The team intends to bring a major upgrade package for the next round at Imola. “We’re working as hard as we can,” said Hamilton. “It’s just we’re dying, desperately need those upgrades, that’s for sure.

“So we’ve just got to keep our head down for one more race and hopefully we’ll start a new path next race.”

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2023 Miami 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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    9 comments on “Hamilton calls Mercedes’ Miami practice pace “a kick in the guts””

    1. The lack of any sense of urgency at Mercedes must be fairly excruciating. I guess they’re still trying to ‘understand the concept.’

      1. Yeah, I don’t think there is any lack of urgency at Mercedes though @david-br. But if they are still not sure exactly why their great concepts don’t work, it’s also hard to improve on that.

        Throwing the kitchen sink at is is not viable anymore with all the limits on development and the budget cap either. I still expect Mercedes to be somewhere p5-p8 in qualifying and finish more or less the same in the race too (with both Ferraris dropping a bit off from qualifying vs Mercedes and Alonso running strong in the race.)

        1. @bascb They’re over a year into a failed design concept. At the current pace they will probably be able to reduce the 1 second deficit to Red Bull to half a second by the end of the year. But the real issue is where they go in terms of next year and beyond. It seems like they’re stuck in a pattern of making methodical incremental changes, which obviously worked after they’d built the fastest car on the grid. This time more radical intervention is probably needed. Yesterday I was watching a video on how the Mercedes cockpit is too far forward for Hamilton’s liking (“it’s like you’re driving on the front wheels”). How do they end up producing a car their drivers – including their 7x champion – so dislike driving? We know the design team completely ignored the advice of both drivers to abandon the 2022 concept. It’s like there’s no real organic connection between the different team parts, or at least no longer.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            6th May 2023, 14:36

            @david-br has any team “bridged” a 1 second gap during the season even without a cap?

            I actually see it more difficult to bridge the gap. The cap was created to allow slower teams to catch up to the top but we are now seeing that it’s affecting the top teams from competing against each other.

            1. @freelittlebirds If you take away Red Bull, I guess you do have an interesting battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Alpine. The problem is the gulf between them and Red Bull, as Zak Brown said. That does seem to be down to design (aero) genius and an almost supernaturally well-integrated and balanced car, fast on the straights, fast in the medium to high corners, fast with DRS, kind to its tyres… The problem in the past other teams would have invested money and time in searching form some ingenious way of gaining lap time (legal and ahem sometimes less than legal). Like you say, it now seems difficult/impossible to make up such a big gap.

    2. Obviously you’ve been hiding under the stairs at your Mum’s house and didn’t bother reading the whole article….Merc is full on right now and have a large upgrade package coming to Imola. Try to keep up.

      1. Watching the sport helps as well. One interesting moment in FP1 caught my attention. I can’t help not to say I was eyeballing when Max went out after the red flag on new softs and Lewis was glued to his gearbox on mediums. In spite of Max opening DRS and Lewis keeping his closed. Can anyone correct me on this one because I thought I was seeing things hard to believe.

        1. It was an outlap, it means nothing, Max was warming his tires and not going all out on a push lap. The only reason Max used his DRS was because he didn’t want Lewis to overtake him and ruin his upcoming push lap by blocking him during it.

    3. Seems like this has been stated before by him. We understand the political motivation of repeating this though.

    Comments are closed.