Hamilton, Russell and Shovlin comment on Las Vegas GP FP1&2

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix Free Practice 1&2.

Busy FP2 as track action gets underway in Las Vegas following initial delay

  • A loose drain cover caused FP1 at the Las Vegas Grand Prix to be abandoned after eight minutes, with FP2 delayed two-and-a-half hours with circuit repairs required.
  • The second of the planned sessions was subsequently extend to 90 minutes, in a similar scenario to that which we saw in Canada earlier in the year.
  • Once running got underway at 0230 local time, the track was soon busy as all drivers and teams looked to get to grips with the 6.201 km venue.
  • After an initial run on the used Soft tyre, both Lewis and George set their best times of the session on a new set of the same compound; good enough to put them both into the top-five at the time.
  • The team’s focused switched to higher fuel running on the Medium tyre earlier than our competitors, with others improving and jumping ahead of Lewis and George when taking an additional set of Soft tyres.
  • With the track temperature remaining around 15°C throughout, both drivers, along with those from other teams, reported graining on both compounds.
  • Given the slightly altered schedule of the day, track action finished at 0400 local time; the team will return for FP3 at 2030 later today.
Lewis Hamilton

It’s an incredibly fast circuit and I had a lot of fun out there. I’m so glad we got to run again today. The circuit did a great job to fix the issue we saw in FP1, and we had an interesting FP2. The balance of the car wasn’t too bad and on similar tyres, I don’t feel that we’re too far off compared to our competitors. It looks like everyone is suffering from graining and we were running out of tyres; I think everyone was in a similar boat. That’s likely due to a combination of a new track surface and the temperature. We are also running a low downforce set-up, so you are sliding through a lot of the slow-speed corners, and some of the high-speed corners too. The rest of the weekend is going to be interesting, and I think Qualifying is going to be hugely important. Managing degradation is going to be key on Saturday night in the race too. Overall though, I had a blast out there, I feel great and I’m ready to go again later today.

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George Russell

It was good to finally get going after quite a long day! It was great to take to the track properly in FP2 and it’s a very fast circuit. It’s some of the highest speeds of the year and racing at night is spectacular. It’s going to be an interesting weekend. The session was dominated by trying to get the tyres working, and then managing graining too. I think that could hinder everyone come Saturday night.

The track was evolving very quickly; the early laps were like driving on ice. However, as the dirt and the dust cleared you were learning, and your braking points were changing. That’s tricky, especially with a low downforce set-up, but I had good fun out there. Overall though, it’s all about pace. It was hard to get a true idea of where we are relative to others given we only took one new set of Soft tyres, where others took two. Ultimately, race pace will be key. I’m looking forward to getting some sleep now and coming back for FP3 later today!

Andrew Shovlin

It was good to get running again in FP2 and we were able to complete most of our programme. Ahead of the event, we’d identified warm-up and graining as being the most significant challenges that we would face. We ran through a few tests to today aimed at further understanding those issues. The track grip was evolving rapidly, which was helping the car balance come together through the session. We know we’ve got a few areas that we can look to improve in terms of that balance and long run pace too.

It’s clearly a very tight field as is becoming the norm this year. Every little bit of performance we can find ahead of Qualifying is going to be useful. It’s also good to have a bit of time now to pick through the data ahead of FP3 this evening. Overall, we’ve got off to a decent start and we’ll hopefully be able to build on that as we go into Qualifying and the Grand Prix.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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