Hamilton is unsure whether he can make it to Q3 tomorrow after tricky FP2

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Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reflect on how things are looking for the team for the Spanish GP, based on their performances in Friday’s free practice sessions. It’s not wrong to say that the duo is not so optimistic with where they stand at the moment.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Lewis Hamilton wasn’t thrilled after the free practice session of the Spanish Grand Prix. “We’re fighting as hard as we can. I would say it was a difficult P1 and P2, just getting on top the tyres and the deg,” he said by acknowledging that the performance does not live up to his expectations.

As he tries to get a better understanding of what feels different from the previous week, he reflects on some points of improvement for himself as well.

“It’s so different from last week, obviously. But I think the long-run pace didn’t look terrible and we just gotta work on how to extract more of that. There’s definitely improvements I think I can do with this set-up, so I will try to get on top of that.”

George Russell, on the other hand, was taking a more optimistic approach for the weekend.

“It’s only Friday and we learned a huge amount. We will dig into the data tonight. We always take a step forward on Saturday and Sunday. We just need to learn what we can from the info we’ve got and try moving forward tomorrow,” the younger British driver said.

The 25-year-old seemed to have porpoising issues during the practice sessions.

“It’s really bumpy through that final corner, really sketchy there,” he explained. Russell then gave credit to his team by saying: “But we solved it for the second half of the session.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

One major change we see this weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is the removing of the final chicane. Turn 13 at the 2023 version of the track will be taken at a much higher speed, leading cars onto the start/finish straight and reducing lap times by several seconds. This alteration may also encourage drivers to make more overtaking attempts going into Turn 1.

Both drivers of the Mercedes team were enthusiastic about the changes on the track. “I definitely prefer it to the chicane that we had in the past. Much more fun, much faster,” Hamilton said.

However, he properly managed fans’ expectations for overtaking by stating:“I didn’t follow anyone there, so I don’t know how it will be in a race.”

Russell gave the verdict about the changes in the chicane from his side of the garage.

“It has gone from one of the worst corners of Formula 1 to one of the best corners of Formula 1.”

“I think it will probably help overtaking a little bit,” he added. “Because in the old layout, it was such a slow-corner you can only get so close then the guy puts his foot down and disappears. It doesn’t seem too bad at the moment, I don’t know how I will feel after Sunday.”

Hamilton’s comments on tomorrow’s qualifying didn’t come as a shock after the free practice session results of today.

“Based on my pace today… it will be difficult for me to get into top 10,” said the 38-year-old, but left some room for optimism by adding “Hopefully with some changes overnight…”

The seven-time World Champion also shared his thoughts on the possibility of rain this weekend.

“Weather always can be a helping hand, given that we are not quick as we want to be.”

When asked about other teams’ performances so far, Hamilton praised rivals’ efforts.

“It’s really impressive to see what Ocon did with Alpine and Aston Martin in second place right behind Red Bull… It’s really impressive. It’s [qualifying] not gonna be easy, that’s for sure.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Russell also commented on qualifying with his not-so-optimistic expectations.

“I don’t think there’s a fight for pole with anyone on this grid, so, that’s the way things are at the moment. It’s gonna be tight. Alpines are looking really strong. So between us, Ferrari, Alpine, it’s probably going to be tight,” he explained.

One of the surprising aspects of the Friday free practice sessions was the performance of Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg for the 25-year-old. “Nico was really quick today, I don’t know where that came from,” he said.

“We saw that in Miami, I think, where Kevin qualified above us. But then things changed on Sunday. So I just don’t expect having an incredible day tomorrow. But I certainly expect us having a better Sunday than Saturday. There were some surprises out there today but the story will definitely be different tomorrow,” he added, ending on a positive note.