Lewis Hamilton wants less experimenting from his Mercedes team on race weekends; next up for F1 is the British Grand Prix with all sessions live on Sky Sports F1 on weekend of July 1-3
Last Updated: 20/06/22 2:12pm
Lewis Hamilton hopes Mercedes will be “a little bit more cautious on doing too many experiments” on race weekends after he claimed a second podium of the season in Canada.
The seven-time world champion labelled his car “undriveable” and a “disaster” following a difficult Friday practice at the Canadian GP in which he and team-mate George Russell ran vastly different set-ups as Mercedes sought more answers for their troublesome W13 car, which has been plagued by porpoising and bouncing all season following F1’s rules revolution.
Hamilton qualified fourth in the Montreal rain on Saturday and then went one better in the race, claiming the 184th podium of his career but just his second of a difficult 2022 – the first coming at the opening race in Bahrain.
Canada was the first weekend Hamilton had finished ahead of Russell since Bahrain, and the 37-year-old hopes Mercedes will be less extreme in their set-up experiments on his car as he feels being the team’s ‘guinea pig’ has been hindering his weekends.
“We’re just trying to work… we’re just trying to progress as a team. Moving forward, I think we’ll be a little bit more cautious on doing too many experiments as it really does hinder you through the weekend, especially if you only have practice one and two in the dry and don’t get a FP3, for example,” he said.
“I think there are lots of learnings from this weekend and improvements that we can make moving forwards.
“I really hope, moving to Silverstone… it’s such an important race for us and for me and so I just want to be in a battle with these guys.”
Hamilton says his result in Canada afforded him belief that the Silver Arrows could claw the gap back to Red Bull and Ferrari on the fast-flowing Silverstone circuit at next weekend’s British Grand Prix.
He said: “I think we’re better in medium and high-speed corners probably, than we are in the low-speed corners but we have bouncing, so I don’t know how it’s going to be through Copse and all those places.”
Are Hamilton and Merc getting any closer to race wins?
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion and Sky Sports F1 pundit, thinks there is a “glimmer of hope” for Mercedes that they are finally getting direction after the Canadian GP weekend.
“I think if you actually look at the race pace they’re still a bit of a way off,” Hill told Sky Sports. “They sometimes show pace in the race then you don’t know how much faster Max (Verstappen) can go if he had to and typically they tend to try and manage their tyres.
“They don’t burn out their car as fast as they can unless they have to so I would say Mercedes still have a chunk of time to find to be serious contenders but clearly a very happy Lewis Hamilton, putting on a brave face in what has been a very difficult year after losing out on a possible eighth title last year.”
FIA are taking steps to reduce high-speed bouncing, so what impact will it have on Mercedes?
“There was a little bit of a suggestion that they (Mercedes) were complaining because they were suffering more than anybody, but it does seem there are more noises coming from the drivers and other teams, and also the FIA, who have been monitoring the vertical acceleration that these guys are subjected to. That means the amount of upwards and downwards movement and also bottoming because the cars are now whacking the ground,” said Hill.
“The problem is, could this have a long-term effect? Similarly in other sports like Rugby we’ve looked at how the athlete can be affected later in life. We don’t want to injure the driver so they’re taking it very seriously.
“Lewis has made some comments to the effect that he could have crashed in places like Baku but clearly you always temper the quotes from the drivers because you wonder whether or not they’re over-egging the pudding to try and make some other advantage but you can see the data is now recorded in the cockpit so you can see whether the drivers are telling the truth or not.
“We don’t know the long-term effect to whether the spine gets injured, the neck gets injured, or even the brain, and so it’s a bit of an imponderable at the moment. Certainly, when I was racing, nobody cared.”
Wolff remains cautious despite Mercedes improvements
Toto Wolff said the team had raised the ride height on its cars to make them more drivable and eliminate the porpoising effect that has bogged down Hamilton and Russell all season.
Although they showed some genuine pace in Canada, the Mercedes team boss insists there is still work to be done.
“You can see at the hairpin they put in new asphalt so we suffer less from the stiffness of the car, which is the main problem, but before the Safety Car came out at the end we were actually quicker than Carlos Sainz and Verstappen but you’re picking out a few laps and saying ‘yeah, we are back’ but I don’t think that’s the case here. We just need to keep working,” said Wolff.
“We just need to develop the car in a different window that we had. We had it really low on the ground but clearly that doesn’t function so I think we have development direction. We didn’t get it right in many areas, but we own the problem and we need to fix it.”
Looking ahead to Silverstone, Wolff added: “If we are able to run the car low then we can be competitive but after Barcelona we’ve been cheering ‘we’re back in the championship fight’, so let’s see.”