Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull will be back to their best at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after their winning run ended in the previous round.Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finished fifth and eight respectively in the Singapore Grand Prix as neither Red Bull driver qualified inside the top 10. The team had won every race until that point.
Red Bull’s slump last weekend prompted speculation the team’s performance had been affected by recent clarifications in the technical rules targeted at flexible bodywork. But Hamilton, who took third for Mercedes in Singapore, expects the champions will dominate at Suzuka in the same way they have at similar tracks earlier this year.
“I would think that if they’re not 30 seconds ahead like they have done in the past then something’s up,” said the Mercedes driver.
“It was obviously a difficult weekend, the last one,” he continued, “but that car should be phenomenal here.”
Red Bull expected the Marina Bay street circuit would not suit their dominant car as well as other venues. But the high-speed Suzuka track should be ideal for the RB19.
“They’ve been phenomenal all year long,” said Hamilton. “They’ve aced pretty much every circuit and it’s going to be great to watch that car in general.
“Normally you would come here and it’s beautiful to watch the laps that they do because the whole team as a whole and the drivers are doing an amazing job with the package they have. So it’ll be interesting to see how the weekend goes.
“I hope that we’re closer and I hope they’re not as fast as that 30-second gap they’ve had in the past.”
Mercedes were narrowly beaten to pole position by Ferrari in Singapore and unable to prevent Carlos Sainz Jnr winning the race. Hamilton doesn’t expect they will be as strong this weekend.
“Carlos was managing at the front and I think we were all relatively close, I would say, at the front. But what a great race it was, just to have us all that close up front.
“This weekend I don’t anticipate having the performance we had in the last race, but we’ve worked very hard, we’re continuing to try and push in the envelope that we have, so I’m hoping that we’re not terribly far off this weekend.”
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2023 Japanese Grand Prix
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