hamilton moanco 2023 f1

Hamilton: Not as close as I hoped we would be

hamilton moanco 2023 f1

Lewis Hamilton had hoped his heavily revamped Mercedes W14 would have moved him closer to the sharp end of the Formula 1 grid after he ended sixth fastest after FP2 for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, not close enough to pace-setting Max Verstappen.

Mercedes team arrived for the sixth round of the season in the sun-cooked principality armed with a major upgrade but after an encouraging start – with Hamilton briefly heading the order in the opening running of the weekend – the Briton ended the day half-a-second behind Verstappen, who finished fastest for Red Bull. George Russell was 12th in the other Mercedes.

Hamilton told reporters after FP2: “It is a shame we were not as close as I hoped we would be at the end of the session. In P1, I thought: Wow, maybe we’re looking pretty good. But in P2 we were close to half a second off. I don’t think we have half a second in the bag. We’ve just got to keep chipping away to see if we can squeeze any more juice out of the cup.”

After giving up on this season’s W14 (successor to last year’s equally ineffective W13) on the eve of the opening race in Bahrain, Mercedes spent the ensuing dozen weeks working on a new design philosophy, abandoning their controversial zero-sidepod concept and introduced a new front suspension, new floor and cooling system in a drastic change of development on a car which has contributed to the longest win-less streak of Hamilton’s career.

On Sunday, the occasion of his 316th Grand Prix start, it will be 539 days since Hamilton last stood on the top step of the podium at the penultimate round of the contentious 2021 season in Saudi Arabia.

And although Mercedes are keen not to draw too many conclusions at this week’s unique Monte Carlo configuration – and believe the following round at the well-trodden Circuit de Catalunya venue on the outskirts of Barcelona will present them with a better understanding of where they stand – the evidence of practice suggests they are no closer to providing a real challenge to Red Bull.

Lewis: Monaco is not a place to ultimately test an upgrade

hamilton moanco 2023 f1 garage

“It’s not really the place to test an upgrade, but the car was generally feeling good,” explained Hamilton. “It’s very clear where the lack of performance is, and we will talk about that in the debrief. Hopefully, this gives us a platform to build on moving forwards.”

Later he added in the Mercedes team report: “I’ve had an amazing day and I really enjoyed driving out there. I want to send a big thank you to everyone at the factories.

“To build, design and develop a car is not an easy thing. Everyone’s put in so many hours of hard work to get us here. We got a lot of data today; it’s not a place to ultimately test an upgrade but the car was generally feeling good,” said Hamilton.

Russell had a relatively subdued day to end 12th on the FP2 time sheets. three-tenths down on his teammate and seven-tenths shy of the top time.

He summed up his Friday: “Monaco is such a unique track so it’s not an ideal place to be evaluating updates, but we knew that coming into the weekend.

“We’re just trying to focus on improving around this circuit and qualifying is obviously the most important part of the weekend. We generally do better on Sundays and struggle more on Saturdays, so we need to try and flip that here.

“There were positive signs to take from today’s sessions but it’s never easy around this place. We made a lot of changes throughout the day, and the car felt improved in FP2. We’ll work hard tonight to see what we can do,” added Russell.

Mercedes could do with a strong showing in Monaco to begin rescuing their season, as the 2023 F1 standings ahead of Round 6 on Sunday, do not make good reading for the German team and its two British drivers as can be seen below. (Additional Reporting PA Media & Reuters)

2023 F1 championship points afer Miami Round 5