Ferrari’s race pace catches Hamilton’s eye

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari could be “slightly ahead” of Mercedes in Austria after taking particular note of their long-run pace at the Red Bull Ring.

Two red flag incidents during the qualifying simulation runs means not much can be gleaned from the FP2 timesheets at Spielberg.

And so Hamilton, who finished top of FP1 and P4 in FP2, is instead more interested in Ferrari’s race run data at this short, sharp circuit which could mean that he is in for a “real challenge” over the course of the weekend.

“I think today’s shown that they [Ferrari] are either with us or slightly ahead of us,” Hamilton told reporters in Austria after FP2.

“It’s one of those circuits where it’s very, very close. If you go, for example, to Brands Hatch it’s the small tenths that make a difference so it’s quite packed at the front.

“I think the Ferraris have generally been very quick on the straights, I think Red Bull have picked up their pace on the straights with their new engine, I think they’re doing great. It’s definitely going to be a real challenge.

“The Ferraris have been quick all year in the straights for whatever reason and it doesn’t seem to be hampering them in the corners. So it’ll be interesting.

“The race runs they’re usually not as strong, but I think today they were quicker than us. But it’s OK, we’ll keep fighting.

“It is a track that you can follow closer at least and hopefully the tyres are durable to be able to do that.”

Hamilton described his day overall as a “clean” one but did go through a couple of front wings because of the unforgiving nature of the circuit.

“It was a clean day for me with no major issues, although I broke a couple of front wings on the kerbs like a lot of other drivers.

“We are flat out for a large portion of the lap this year – even corners like Turns 6 and 7, Turn 9 and the last corner are seriously quick in these cars – and we have been tickling the set-up all day to improve it.”

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