Hamilton losing most of 1.6 seconds down Baku straight

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, looks disappointed. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

A rather forlorn Lewis Hamilton said that he was losing most of his time down the long start/finish straight during Baku Friday practice.

Mercedes appear to be in a battle to lead the midfield once more at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, though Hamilton was understandably alarmed to finish FP2 over 1.6s slower than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who topped the session.

Post-FP2 Sky Sports F1 asked Hamilton for his experiences in trying to switch the tyres on around the track, though he explained that this was not the issue.

Instead, most of that deficit he felt was building up down the straights.

“Tyres felt to us like they’re working well, no issues for starting the lap,” said the seven-time World Champion.

“I just can’t really tell you where 1.6 seconds..that’s a long way away. A lot of it’s on the straights.”

And to that point, when asked for the hardest aspect of Friday practice in Baku, Hamilton replied: “Bouncing, we hit some serious speeds at the end here and it’s bouncing a lot.”

Hamilton was the lead Mercedes driver come the end of FP1, though slipped to P12 in the afternoon session, three-tenths slower than team-mate George Russell.

Hamilton explained that some experimenting had been going on from his side, and the verdict is that he wants to go back to the FP1 set-up.

“We tried something experimental in my car and didn’t feel that great to be honest, but at least we tried it and got data on it. And now we’ll go through it and hopefully for tomorrow we’ll probably revert back to all the change.”

 

Russell admitted that the day had not gone as well as he would have hoped, and like Hamilton, he was not ready to pin that fully on the tyres.

Instead, he said 50% of Mercedes’ deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari could be attributed to the tyres, but overall, the W13 is simply not at the level of the RB18 or F1-75.

“It was a tricky day, we weren’t as competitive as we would have liked,” he said.

“Again tricky track to get the tyres in the right window you see a number of drivers, their fastest laps right at the end of a run, whereas, Ferrari, Red Bull always seem to be able to turn it on.

“But at the moment they just have inherently a faster car than us and we’re trying everything we can to catch up.

“I think if we were totally on top of the tyres, we’re not going to fully close that gap. We’re definitely not going to fully close that gap. They’re just too far ahead. So that’s probably 50% of our issue. The rest is just the lack of performance we have at the moment.”

 

Mercedes unlikely to be ‘transformed’ in Baku

While Mercedes driver George Russell feels they'll be able to have a better weekend than the one in Monaco, it still may not be enough to challenge for the win.