Lewis Hamilton after Saudi Arabian GP FP1&2: “I’m generally happy”

© Finn Pomeroy for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After topping FP1 and FP2, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Andrew Shovlin give their first thoughts on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix free practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton is off to a good start at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The Briton topped both Friday free practice sessions.

Describing his first experience of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Lewis said:

“Rapid! Unbelievably quick! It really is incredibly fast, a lot of grip as well and once you get the rhythm, it’s beautiful to drive.”

However, he says the traffic that was encountered in FP2 could also pose a problem in qualifying.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a lot worse than a lot of places we go to – Monaco-esque. The closing-difference speeds is definitely getting to a bit of a danger zone.”

However, generally Lewis says he is pleased with the sessions

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“What I noticed straight away was the grip was very, very high from the moment we went out. We tried a couple of different things with the set-up.

“We’re not rapid on a single lap compared to the others but our long-run pace seemed like it was not too bad so who knows what’s going to happen.

“I’m generally happy. We made some changes between sessions. I’m unsure which one I want to stay with, but we’ll study through it tonight and work with the guys back at the factory to try and make sure we come up with the correct setup for tomorrow.

“It’s definitely not in a bad place. Over a single lap, they’re [Red Bull] quite quick, so we’ve got a bit of work to do.

“I don’t feel like I’ve had to build up confidence. It is a track where you can’t go flat out into it, you have to build up into it,” concluded the seven-time champion.

Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says it’s up to the team to give Lewis the car capable of getting pole position.

“Lewis has to win both races and it’s good to have that clarity in the objectives,” Shovlin said.

“We engineer a car that can get on pole – that is the fastest thing in a race that is what we need to do overnight.

“If we give that car to Lewis, he can do the job,” he concluded.

Valtteri Bottas loved the circuit, describing it as “really cool, hardcore, full gas, close to the walls at high speed. It’s one to enjoy. It gives you an adrenaline rush.”

“We got a confirmation of the grip level, you base it all on the estimates but actually we started in not a too bad place,” continued the Finn.

“The biggest surprise was how long the tyres lasted. I don’t think we’ll see too many stops during the race.

“All the compounds seem good,” Bottas concluded.

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