Lewis Hamilton compares Mercedes Canada practice showing to F1 2022 struggles

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) in action during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) in action during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton has declared his experience of the Canadian Grand Prix circuit as “massively better” compared to 2022 after the Mercedes driver set the pace in Friday practice in Montreal.

Mercedes were forced to make sweeping changes to their W14 car after a disappointing start to the 2023 season, with the team introducing a major upgrade package in Monaco last month.

The Brackley-based outfit enjoyed their strongest performance for some time at the last race in Spain, where Mercedes emerged as the closest challengers to the dominant Red Bull of Max Verstappen and Hamilton and team-mate George Russell both made the podium.

Despite finishing third in Canada in 2022, Hamilton had an uncomfortable ride in a car blighted by porpoising.

And after setting the fastest time in FP2 on Friday with Russell close behind in second, the seven-time World Champion is even more enthused about the transformation of the Mercedes since Monte Carlo.

He told Formula 1 after the session: “I can only base it off compared to last year and it’s massively better than last year, but the rear end is not necessarily.

“But overall the car is just a step forwards and I’m definitely feeling the improvements that we felt in Monaco, I’m feeling them here.”

Hamilton pinpointed areas for improvement for Mercedes ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, adding: “Not the greatest [feeling from the car], but not the worst by far. It’s feeling pretty decent.

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“It’s just bumpy. I think everyone’s having the struggles with the bumps, so I think we’ve just got to improve our ride control and a bit of the balance through [the] corner and I think we’ll be alright.”

The afternoon session in Montreal was extended by 30 minutes after FP1 was interrupted by the after-effects of a power cut in the local area, which affected CCTV cameras at the circuit.

Despite setting the fastest time, Hamilton – who, along with Russell, spent the opening part of the session circulating on high fuel – feels Mercedes did not use the extra time as effectively as they could have done.

He said: “It was OK, I think.

“Probably the bumpiest circuit that we’ve been on for a long time, but a bit of a strange day because obviously we got to miss the first session. I felt really bad for all the fans that are out there.

“I had a great, great crowd already from yesterday, the city’s pumping. I don’t know what happened with CCTV cameras or something like that, but I’m glad that we got to go out and it was nice to have an hour-and-a-half session.

“We haven’t had an hour and a half for a long time [but] I felt like the time was not used optimally, so we’ll get back and have a look at how it came about. I was just itching to go. I was like: ‘Get me out this, let’s maximise the time out there.’

“I love driving this track, it’s mega. l loved it. From the moment you leave the pit lane you’re like: ‘Yeah, this is wicked.’

“The car didn’t feel bad. I think we’ve definitely got some work to do.”

The closing moments of FP2 were interrupted by a heavy downpour, with several drivers struggling to keep their cars under control in the treacherous second half of the lap.

With more rain expected for Saturday, Hamilton – without a win since the penultimate race of 2021 – is sensing an opportunity to cause a potential upset.

“I love the rain, so let’s try to have fun tomorrow,” he added.