Hard-fought race at Suzuka nets minor points for the team
- Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
- Lining up on the fourth row of the grid, Lewis suffered early contact from Sergio Perez at the start; fortunately he suffered no obvious damage, although both Lewis and George dropped a position on the opening lap.
- Lewis was able to run a conventional two-stop strategy, stopping on lap 16 and lap 34 for the Hard tyre on each occasion.
- George was able to attempt the one-stop strategy, boxing for the Hard compound on lap 24.
- Despite a valiant effort, George was unable to keep the fresher-tyred cars behind. A team effort to get both cars ahead of Carlos Sainz ultimately proved too much but Lewis was able to secure P5, representing a good recovery from the first lap on a day when we struggled for outright pace.
- Congratulations to Red Bull Racing who secured the 2023 World Constructors’ Championship. We now hold a 20-point advantage over Ferrari for second.
I’m exhausted after that one! Ferrari brought an upgrade this weekend and they were just that little bit quicker than us here this weekend. It was a hell of a fight. I was really trying to hold on. We did manage to get ahead of Sainz which was great teamwork and good work from the guys in the pit stop and the strategy group. That was the maximum we could have achieved today. We know how important the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship is. I know how hard everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is working to achieve that. Minimising our points loss to Ferrari today was critical. There is still a long way to go until the end of the season.
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We will take the positives from today. The one-stop strategy didn’t seem to be the optimal one at the start of the day, but we made it work better than expected. Ultimately though, we just didn’t have the pace this weekend to challenge those ahead. I’m glad we tried something different, but the end result was a fair representation of where our speed was. I think we achieved the maximum we could today. There was plenty of hard but fair racing today. In the beginning, I felt like I had good pace so was trying to make progress. In the closing stages, we were pushing but ultimately, I don’t think anything we could have done would have changed the result. That’s all good and it’s all part of motorsport. It’s been a challenging weekend for us here at Suzuka, overall. We will try to understand why that was and come back stronger for the next race in Qatar.
We realised early on that we were not going to be able to challenge those further ahead for the podium. Our race today therefore ultimately turned into minimising our points loss to Ferrari. We split our strategies to give us the best opportunity to do this. Being able to get one car in between the Ferraris was useful damage limitation, given they both started ahead of us. At the end of the race, the odds of George holding back Sainz were relatively small because his one-stop strategy left the Ferrari with a sizeable tyre advantage. The reason that we committed to that strategy though was that we had very little to lose. He had no threat behind Sainz; it was a difficult strategy to pull off and he did a good job. Ultimately though, the tyre degradation was too high to make it work. Given this, we had to protect Lewis from losing the position to Sainz, as he was the more likely car to finish ahead, and therefore gave the instruction to invert the cars on track.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team