Lewis Hamilton cautions ‘don’t mess it up’ after ‘best’ day with Mercedes W15

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton fixes his helmet with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Is Lewis Hamilton poised to enjoy a much-improved weekend at Suzuka?

Lewis Hamilton has stressed the need to resist making “too many changes and mess up” his Japanese Grand Prix weekend after his “best session” with the Mercedes W15 car at Suzuka.

Having announced in February that he will join Ferrari in 2025, Hamilton has endured his worst-ever start to a season in his final year as a Mercedes driver, finishing no higher than seventh in the opening three races.

Lewis Hamilton warns against excessive Mercedes W15 changes at Japanese GP

Hamilton’s stuttering start to the season slumped to a new low at the last race in Australia, where he retired with an engine failure after just 15 laps.

That came after the seven-time World Champion was knocked out of Q2 in qualifying, with Hamilton admitting during the Melbourne weekend that he was “the least confident” he’d ever been with the Mercedes car.

Hamilton enjoyed a much-improved showing on Friday at Suzuka, where he was classified fifth – within half a second of Max Verstappen’s pace-setting Red Bull – in FP1 before improving to second in the rain-affected afternoon session.

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Speaking after the second practice session, Hamilton revealed the W15 is in a “sweeter spot” in Japan – and warned against tinkering too much with the car ahead of qualifying.

He said: “It was a great session, it was a really good session for us.

“It was the best session that we’ve had this year, it’s the best the car has felt this year so far. So far, pretty positive.

“I was really excited because this is a circuit that every driver loves to drive. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and a difficult balance to drive here.

“And given the difficult last few races we’ve had, great work has been done this past week and we just seem to have hit the ground a bit more in a sweeter spot.

“So I haven’t really made any changes since [FP1].

“I think we’ve got a better platform or baseline to start from, so as long as we don’t make too many changes and mess it up…

“I think probably just stay where we are and hopefully we’ll get a [good weekend].”

A rule change for the F1 2024 season has been blamed for a severe lack of running in FP2, with teams no longer given extra sets of tyres in the event of a session being declared wet.

Hamilton has questioned the wisdom behind the rule tweak, adding: “It’s a shame we didn’t get that [FP2] session.

“They have changed the tyre rule, so therefore no one goes out and drives runs on the intermediate.

“It just doesn’t make sense, really, but there you go.”

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