Lewis Hamilton: “Once we got racing today, I had a blast out there”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, and Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the Japanese Grand Prix.

A weather-affected Sunday in Suzuka sees a shortened race, with Lewis and George finishing P5 and P8 in the wet conditions.

  • Lewis finished P5, behind OCO who he was unable to pass on track despite a significant pace advantage owing to a lack of straight-line speed.
  • For the second consecutive race, Lewis didn’t spend any laps in free air and was unable to capitalise on the car’s inherent pace.
  • George took P8 after losing positions during a double stack pit-stop to change from Wet to Inter tyres.
  • George emerged in P13 and made several spectacular on-track passes but finished behind VET and ALO, who respectively pitted two laps earlier and one lap later.
  • The team lost just one point to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship today, while Max Verstappen’s dominant victory secured his second drivers’ world championship with four races remaining.
Lewis Hamilton

Once we got racing today, I had a blast out there – it was so tough in the conditions, hard to see and that’s exactly how motor racing should be; a real challenge for us all. I wish we had been able to go longer and do more laps for the fans who waited so patiently, but we ran to time and were beginning to lose the light. In terms of my race, I tried everything I could against Esteban but like we saw yesterday, we were just too slow in a straight line. As soon as I pulled out of the tow, he was able to pull away from me, and I just couldn’t get past even though we had a big pace advantage. I was trying every line and got so close, but he drove very well and didn’t make any mistakes, so that was the maximum we could do today. Now we need to pick the bones out of these two races and learn our lessons to maximise the points we can score in the final four races. Finally, congratulations to Max – he’s done exactly the job he needed to do to win his second title. We know what our problems are with this car, and I believe we have the team to come back stronger next season.

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George Russell

We need to review and see what we could have done better today. I think we had a stronger car than the result reflects, and that we could have been P6 today. I think that stacking in the pit lane cost me positions, and that made it a frustrating afternoon, so we need to look at it and see what the other options were. I made some good overtakes after that – but it was a case of trying to recover what we had lost. It was a strange afternoon overall: the conditions at the beginning were impossible, not with the grip but in terms of visibility and the amount of spray this generation of cars generates, and we need to learn the right lessons from the incident with the recovery vehicle on track while we were running behind the Safety Car. Overall, this has been a difficult double-header for us, and we’ve not scored the points we should have – so we need to regroup, focus on the final four races, and try to extract everything from the car we have under us. And of course, congratulations to Max on his second championship; the outcome has been clear for a while, but he and Red Bull have done an exceptional job this year.

Andrew Shovlin

Well done to Max on the championship, he’s driven brilliantly this year. Our weekend has been pretty tough but today was frustrating: the car had good pace, but we were just stuck behind cars and had no chance of getting through without DRS. The conditions were clearly tricky, but it was good that we were able to get the race going in the end and give the fans some entertainment. There was only really the one decision point to make the in race which was when to come in for Inters. It looked like the optimum would have been to follow the Safety Car in when we restarted which was surprising given the amount of water on the track. We’d called to bring both in together and that cost us a bit of time in the stops for George with the stacking; he’d have joined a couple of places further up if we’d waited a lap which would have given him a better chance of being part of the race that Lewis was having with Esteban. Saying that, Lewis was having a frustrating time trying to get through. He had good pace and we’d opted for a high downforce level expecting rain, but he just couldn’t find a way past due to the straight-line speed. So, plenty of things over the last two races that we can improve on, not least giving the drivers a better car in qualifying so we can hopefully start closer to the front. We’ll be busy for the next week getting ready for Austin and hoping to get ourselves back into a position where we are racing for the podium positions.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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