Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, Interlagos, 2023

Hamilton: Wrong set-up, draggy car and “worst deg ever” behind slump to seventh

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Lewis Hamilton said a litany of problems contributed to his poor result in yesterday’s sprint race.

The Mercedes driver started the race from fifth position but fell to seventh place at the end. He succumbed to high tyre degradation in the final laps and was passed by Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda.

Speaking to media in the Interlagos paddock afterwards Hamilton admitted despite making a “good start” it had been “a very tough race” due to his car’s poor handling balance.

“We tried to get the right balance with the wing and just had a lot of understeer, snap oversteer and the rear tyres just dropped off in the mid-sector. Huge understeer. I don’t know whether we got the set-up wrong, probably got the set-up wrong, but it is what is it.”

Like most drivers, Hamilton started the race on the soft tyres. However his lap times rose towards the end of the race as they degraded.

“It’s one of those circuits that’s challenging for tyres,” he said. “But that’s the worst deg I think I’ve ever had here. I don’t remember the last time I had that bad a deg here.”

Leclerc and Tsunoda almost passed him in consecutive moves on lap 20, but the AlphaTauri backed out after looking at the inside of Hamilton in turn four. However Tsunoda still made his way by before the lap was over in another DRS zone.

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Hamilton said he had little chance to keep his rival behind. “We have one of the draggiest cars,” he explained. “Our floor is not as strong as perhaps like the Red Bull, for example.

“So we have to have a really big [rear] wing and then we’re just slow in the straight. We can’t use anything smaller.”

Since Mercedes introduced a floor update in Austin, Hamilton has finished second in both grands prix, though he lost one of those results due to a technical infringement. He admitted Saturday’s result was especially disappointing given their recent progress.

“The last couple of races we’ve been excited that we’re progressing and it’s been positive to see. Then you come to another track and you have the worst deg that you’ve had for ages. So it’s like you just don’t know what to expect.”

He admitted he won’t be sorry to see the back of the team’s 2023 chassis, which is on course to become their first car to fail to win a race all season since 2011.

“Only a couple more races for this car and I’ll be happy,” said Hamilton. “This year you’re just counting down the days and try to enjoy every day as you can.”

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12 comments on “Hamilton: Wrong set-up, draggy car and “worst deg ever” behind slump to seventh”

  1. it was disappointing, to see the tyre deg when I thought they’d been improving it

  2. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    5th November 2023, 10:15

    I was expecting Mercedes to be in that awkward position where their drivers are battling come the end of the race given Hamilton has traditionally had far superior tyre management to Russel. But Ham just dropped off like a brick in the last 7 or so laps whilst Russel more or less held pace (relatively).

    1. Robert Henning
      5th November 2023, 11:40

      I think that far superior tire management is a bit of a myth when Russell has had plenty of races where he has held his own and Hamilton hasn’t had the overpace to come close to him.

      Tire management is only relative to teammates. Hamilton has had superior management relative to Bottas. With respect to Russell it’s still better but from far from superior. Just like the only thing I can say about Tire management is that Verstappen is better than all his teammates. People underestimate the car aspect in Tire wear which is primarily the driving factor.

      FP1 degradation already showed Ham having worse wear than everyone else on the hards. Merc are probably better off breaking Parc ferme at this rate if they think the car wouldn’t be better on mediums and hards. Russell indeed had better wear likely because he had a better setup, as his FP1 deg showed.

      A rain creating a greener track replicating a FP1 like track is also possible. It’s also possible that the deg will be lower with lower Temps and more rubber after the sprint.

      1. I think that far superior tire management is a bit of a myth

        The man won his 7th championship on interslick tires but ok

        1. Robert Henning I too don’t see much evidence for what you opine, evidence seems to be that Hamilton learned a lot while teamed with Button, and does tend to be good at keeping his tyres when needed. Just last race, Hamilton had a lot more success than Russell in keeping his tyres. Now, that was part luck and circumstance, as it often will be. Still Russell only mostly more success with them last year when he was often lucky with the SC situations and this year when he was ahead from the start, which is the reverse of Hamilton in Mexico. But, when the car’s not working, it doesn’t, and both drivers have suffered from that.

          1. Robert Henning
            5th November 2023, 15:45

            Last two races Russell just informed he was managing temperatures and cooling requirements. I do suggest looking that up on The Race for your information. The issue as far as I see with most fans here and everywhere else is they work on partial information. Hamilton is not that much quicker because of tire management this year just like how Verstappen isn’t that much better than Perez. Russell has been uncharacteristically poor in qualifying which essentially leads to recovery races in traffic, which then creates the false impression that one driver is that much more better.

            If Hamilton had so superior tire management what was he doing at Jeddah or Miami or Monza or Silverstone or Brazil all this year?

            Hamilton berated the car for his inability to manage tires and he isn’t wrong exactly there.

            I didn’t make an unsubstantiated claim. I just had a prior belief formed from FP1, which correlated well with the sprint.

        2. Robert Henning
          5th November 2023, 15:46

          I’m sure that skills remain constant forever and driving the W11 had no role to play.

          1. nice, we’ve moved the discussion from his “superior tire management” to ‘it’s the car’ and ‘declining skill set/age’
            you’ll have to excuse me, I’m still reeling from the g forces of that abrupt turn.

          2. abrupt turn.

            so, who brought 2020 to the discussion?

          3. me, as one of many concrete evidences of lewis’ tire management abilities.
            turkey 2020 drivers were spinning left, right, and in a straight line
            lewis was essentially faultless driving on a knife’s edge with the slick track and weather conditions separating good from great.
            my counterpart switched that point of discussion of tire management to the capabilities of the car and hamilton’s age with respect to skill set. Considering the following year, lewis almost won his 8th in a car that had its wings clipped or the fact that his or even Alonso’s recent performances show older heads still know a thing or two about driving and tires I felt it more poignant to bring up the abrupt switch than address the clearly bad take.

            keep up

  3. I think the only non complicated way to keep sprints and not affect the grand Prix is to suspend parc farme for x hours after sprints then resume it. Everyone gets a chance to use the data they’ve collected from the sprint to adjust for the grand Prix and the Grand Prix is still bit unpredictable. The teams will still fight for points during the sprint and fight to see what they have in their arsenal for the grand Prix.

    Win win right?

  4. Formula Imperfection
    Let’s make the best racing cars possible and then give the teams and drivers virtually no time to optimize the cars.
    Makes total sense.

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