Lewis Hamilton ‘actually felt’ new floor impact in positive Austin qualifying showing

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton qualifies for the US Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton qualified third for the US Grand Prix on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton praised the impact of the upgraded floor on his Mercedes for his performance in qualifying on Friday, saying he “actually felt” it underneath him.

Hamilton will line up third for the United States Grand Prix on Sunday after qualifying a tenth behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Austin, having looked in contention for pole throughout Friday’s session.

With Mercedes having only had one hour of practice to familiarise themselves with their upgrades, Hamilton believes the floor was “one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt” since the switch to ground effect regulations in 2022, which was a positive step forward for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes gaining ‘more and more knowledge’ of how to move forward

Focus is fully on 2024 development in Formula 1 and, while the upgrades brought to the current cars may have a direct impact on how next year’s cars may look, the fight for victory on Sunday is what Hamilton will be focusing on in the here and now.

With Austin being a sprint weekend, the seven-time World Champion admitted while sat alongside Leclerc and Lando Norris that he cannot rate his own chances of winning on Sunday, given the lack of information he and the team have over a longer stint at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Too early to say, none of us have done any long running, so I have no idea,” Hamilton responded when asked if he is in with a chance of victory on Sunday.

“Maybe with the Red Bull not in the top three, maybe that makes it a better, closer battle – because they’re often quite a bit ahead and just disappear into the distance.

“So hopefully, the three of us can have a tight battle.”

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Mercedes were one of five teams to bring upgrades with them to Austin, with the team confirming their new floor was their most significant update for the remainder of 2023 as attention turns to 2024.

When asked if the updates will have a direct influence on Mercedes’ next car, Hamilton was unable to answer, though he praised the feeling he had with the car after driving it on Friday.

“I don’t know really if it’s a signifier of anything for next year,” Hamilton said in response to a question about the new floor and its potential impact on the Mercedes W15.

“As we continue to experiment, we get more and more knowledge of where we’re going, where we’re routing the flow of the car.

“The floor is not a huge amount different. There’s always hype with someone’s upgrade, but the rest of the car is exactly the same and there’s lots and lots of areas in which we can improve.

“But this is an improvement, this is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years.

“So that’s a positive and we just need two or three times of this step to put us in super competitive mode, which I believe the guys can do.”

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