Lewis Hamilton doubles down on format change criticism and suggests alternative plan

Sam Cooper
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Lewis Hamilton has again criticised the format change that is being trialled at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

In the first of two trials this year, F1 and Pirelli will be running the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) which sees the number of tyres given to a driver reduced from 13 to 11.

There is also a change for qualifying as drivers will be forced to use the hard in Q1, the medium in Q2 and softs in Q3.

For a race weekend, drivers are given three hards, four mediums and four softs and following Friday’s running, they have already returned two of those sets back to Pirelli.

But Hamilton has never been a fan of the change, which is being trialled as a way of making Formula 1 more sustainable, and has double downed on his criticisms, suggesting it was “not really a great format.”

“I only had one tyre so not really a great format this change they made for this weekend,” Hamilton said.

“It just means we get less running so not ideal. There’s a lot of wet tyres I think they throw away after the weekend, like a lot. Maybe they should look into something like that rather than taking time and lap time or time on track away from the fans.”

Hamilton’s complaints did not stop at the tyres or Pirelli either with the Mercedes driver going on to suggest the W14 was “the worst.”

He would end the FP2 session all the way down in P16, while team-mate George Russell propped up the timings.

“The feeling was the car is the worst today but we will work on the setup tonight and hopefully tomorrow,” he complained.

“Last year it felt terrible at the beginning and then you turn it around with some setup changes. So we’re working on that tonight. Hopefully tomorrow is a better one.”

Russell was more optimistic, recognising that lap time was not relevant considering he ran one set of slick tyres all day.

“It didn’t feel too bad in all honesty,” Russell said. “I was obviously on very different programmes to everybody else, we only used one set of tyres throughout it. It was used tyres as well from FP1 so the lap time is not a true representation.

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“I’m sure tomorrow will be better. We always know that we sort of tend to get better as the weekend progresses, which is the right way round for it. A few interesting things we learned even in that one session.”

As for the areas where he wants to see improvement, he said overall grip was the primary concern.

“It was struggling just with a bit of overall grip really for tyres in the right window both at low fuel and high fuel. So we just need to understand why that was.

“As I said, wasn’t our best day for sure but it’s not the first time I’ve said that on a Friday evening. Saturday, Sunday often is better.”

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