Hamilton, Russell, Vesti and Shovlin comment on Japanese GP FP1&2

© Sulay Kelly for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Frederik Vesti and Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix Free Practice 1&2.

Lots to learn for the Team on Friday at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

  • Light rain showers and challenges with the car set-up kept them busy at this unique circuit during Friday practice.
  • Junior Driver Frederik Vesti completed FP1 in George’s car, the first of the two rookie sessions we must do during the season, and delivered useful feedback for the team.
  • The team ran prototype Pirelli tyres in both FP1 and FP2, before focusing on trialling test items and different set-up scenarios.
  • Lewis and George both struggled with the balance of the car and an overall lack of grip, not unusual for this track at the start of a race weekend.
  • There’s plenty of opportunity to improve on the single lap pace and the car showed some solid long-run performance.
  • Several set-up changes were made ahead of FP2, with Lewis finishing in P7 and George in P10.
  • The team will look to optimise the set-up and make improvements overnight before returning to the track for FP3 tomorrow morning.

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Lewis Hamilton

It’s been a challenging day for me today, the car felt completely different to what it felt like in Austin a week ago and we need to understand why. We didn’t show the most competitive long-runs, so we’ve been focusing on trying out different set-ups. The track here comes with its challenges, but we’ve done well here in previous years. So, we’re not yet fully where we want to be ahead of tomorrow, but we will work hard overnight to improve and make necessary changes. The car showed a promising pace in Austin and I’m confident we can get it to a good place here and there’s plenty of room for us to improve.

George Russell

It felt good to be back in the car, but I had a challenging session today with mixed weather conditions and a bit of rain towards the end of FP2, which compromised the consecutive laps for everybody. It’s a tight grid out there and lots of traffic during the sessions today, so one of the challenges we will need to tackle this weekend. We also need to make some improvements with the pace of our car, if we want to be at the front end of Q3 tomorrow, but I know we will work hard overnight to achieve that.

Fred Vesti

This is a very special weekend for me, it’s a dream come true and I’m very grateful to the team for the opportunity. Since I’ve joined the team’s junior programme, there’s been a lot of work going into getting the right results and lots of preparations in the simulator to prepare me for today. It was a good session for us overall, we managed to get some useful information from the long run stints and understand the prototype tyres and degradation at this track. I’ve never raced here before and it’s definitely a difficult track with low grip, which you can also really feel in the car. So, lots of learnings for me and the team today in this one-hour long practice session and hopefully good preparations for decent results on Sunday. And I can’t wait to be back in Abu Dhabi and sit in the car for the team again.

Andrew Shovlin

We’ve struggled with the car today and it wasn’t the easiest introduction to a free practice session for Fred; Lewis was finding the car quite a handful, but Fred did a good job to get through the test items, he didn’t make any mistakes and had some fun driving the track here. The extra sets of tyres that we had to evaluate tend to mean that the programmes up and down the grid diverge a bit, which makes it more difficult to compare, but we’ve seen enough to know that we have work to do on both single lap and long run. George is still getting up to speed having missed the first session and both lost a bit of time on single lap with traffic, but we need more than that. It’s also interesting that most teams have had a driver featuring near the front at some point today, which almost certainly means that getting through to the final part of qualifying will not be comfortable. We’ve got some good lines of enquiry to follow up overnight so we’ll keep working on it, the balance has been pretty poor throughout the day which is normally a good indication there is lap time that can be found.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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