Lewis Hamilton had a difficult start to the first day of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.Max Verstappen and half a second down on his team mate, George Russell.
“It was a bad day, to be honest,” said Hamilton. “I really struggled out there. I’m a long way off: Two seconds off in the first session and over a second in the second. So just working away at trying to fix the car, fix the balance.”
Mercedes enjoyed a more competitive weekend in Singapore but Hamilton said the high-speed corners at Suzuka are showing up some of the cars’ weaknesses.
“We were obviously much closer in the last race where we didn’t have any high-speed [corners], pretty much, only one high speed corner but it’s not as high as the speed of the corners here.
“Our car has, more often than not, been a little bit weaker at high speed corners, at places like Silverstone, for example, Copse. So that’s an area where we need to work on getting the car in a little bit more of a sweet spot and not overheating our tyres as much. But we’ll work on it overnight and try to turn it around for tomorrow.”
Hamilton has not been as competitive as Russell in qualifying since the season resumed following the summer break. He said he needs to close the gap to his team mate tomorrow.
“We definitely won’t be winning this weekend,” he said. “If I can particularly move up a little bit further up the order so I can at least back up George, [he] did not such a bad lap. But a tough one.”
Russell was more satisfied with his car’s balance, describing his day as “half-reasonable.”
“Red Bull are back to their normal ways, which I don’t think is a major surprise for many,” he continued. “They seem very, very quick.
“We’re not too far from P2, I think there’s two tenths in it. So it’s going to be a good fight between Ferrari and Lando [Norris] but also you have cars like Alex up there, as you often see in qualifying.”
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2023 Japanese Grand Prix
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