Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes W13 was ‘just so slow in a straight line’ at Suzuka

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton trails Esteban Ocon. Suzuka October 2022.

While Lewis Hamilton thoroughly enjoyed his tussle with Esteban Ocon throughout the Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes’ lack of straight-line speed cost him the overtake on the Alpine driver.

The two were almost constantly battling for fourth place as the shortened race unfolded at Suzuka, with Hamilton all over the back of Ocon as he tried to get past.

While he was able to get right up to the back of the Alpine and even partially alongside at the exit of certain corners, on the run down to 130R or Turn 1 Ocon was able to pull away and keep hold of his position on the straights.

The seven-time former World Champion enthused about his race alongside the former Mercedes reserve driver, and said he did not feel frustration at how things had turned out – it was just the W13’s low top speed that had hindered him.

“I had a lot of fun,” Hamilton said about his battle with Ocon after the race, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“He did a great job staying on track and staying ahead. Obviously he was very quick on the straights.

“I was trying everything but I think we had the most fun. I don’t know how other people had it.”

To Sky F1, Hamilton said: “I don’t feel frustrated because it was a sprint race. I did the best I could and I’m happy we at least got some points.

“We were just so slow in a straight line. I was getting close, as close as I could. You could probably see it on the TV, as soon as I pulled out they would just pull away. I wish it was a longer race.”

There was a two-hour delay to proceedings in worsening weather at Suzuka, with a red-flag period followed by long spells of heavy rain while the race clock was running.

The grand prix was eventually able to restart with around 40 minutes of full action taking place in fading light, and Hamilton was pleased about the “awesome” outing he and Ocon had together – but just hoped to have been able to race more.

“I’m glad we got some laps for the fans here. Although it’s not really a massive race for them, considering how long they waited,” Hamilton said.

“I think it was awesome. I mean, that’s what motor racing is about. I had a blast. It was so tough, so hard to see.

“I think the restart we had at the end, I think it was perfect timing and I just wish we could have gone longer into a bit of the dark. We lost a little bit of the light.”

Read more: FIA’s lack of immediate transparency opens the door for speculation to run rampant