Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022

Hamilton: ‘I hoped we’d be three-tenths off them and it’s a second’

2022 French Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton admitted Mercedes are much further away from the pace of their main rivals than he expected at the French Grand Prix.

“I came here this weekend hoping that we’re going to be within three-tenths off them and we’re a second [off],” he said in response to a question from RaceFans after qualifying today.

Mercedes thought the combination of quick corners, a smooth track surface and high temperatures at Paul Ricard would play into their hands. Hamilton admitted he was hoping this weekend would be a springboard to a more competitive showing at the Hungaroring next week.

“With the three-tenths, then I was hoping that the next race we can close that couple of tenths and we’d be in the fight in Budapest. But if it’s anything like this, then we it’s going to be a while. But it’s possible.”

Hamilton took fourth on the grid, just under nine-tenths of a second behind pole-winner Charles Leclerc, and two-tenths ahead of his team mate George Russell. Hamilton said his lap “felt really good” but was too far from the pace.

“I was really happy with my lap at the end, it was a beautiful lap, it was just a second off. So for whatever reason, we seem to be a lot further off this weekend.

“But then the whole pack is really. The two top teams are just in their own league, really.”

Having sat out the first practice session, when Nyck de Vries drove his car, Hamilton said he was pleased to have made up for lost running.

“Considering I missed P1, which definitely does put you on the back foot, I’m really happy with the progress that I made,” he said. “Everyone back at the factory is working really hard with us to make progress. I came into today and I think we took a step back today but into qualifying I managed to turn it around.”

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The superior straight-lined speed of Mercedes’ rivals accounts for much of the difference between them, said Hamilton. “In the last lap, the first sector was just as quick as the guys ahead. And then it’s all down the straights, we lose a lot down the straights.

“I don’t know what time it is, but it’s at least half a second probably just on the straights. Then all through that high-speed section, the last few corners, they’re pulling chunks off us. It’s like they have less drag and more downforce in all the corners.”

“The last sector was like six, seven tenths or something,” he added. “It’s just crazy. A lot of it’s just full-throttle.

“So some of it’s just that drag but for some reason they’re able to go much quicker through the high-speed corners than us. I don’t understand it. But we’ll just keep working away.”

Hamilton experimented with running a steeper rear wing during practice, but swapped it for a more conventional example.

“I ran a big wing this morning just to see if that was better and it was so slow on the straight so we had to come back with it,” he said. “I am still experimenting with the car.

“Generally George has been with the same car all week, since P1 he hasn’t changed hardly anything. But I like to experiment so I tried the smallest thing at the beginning of the weekend and I tried the biggest wing and set-ups going all over. At least I got the qualifying set-up good.”

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2022 French Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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38 comments on “Hamilton: ‘I hoped we’d be three-tenths off them and it’s a second’”

  1. 6 tenths away from Max with a setup that will go well in the race – they took the higher downforce rear wing off.

    He was a second away from a car that had a 2nd driver doing everything possible to give the perfect tow….

    1. Even without the tow Charles woud be first verstappen was already out on his second run when the tow happened and Charles was improving the entire lap before the tow. So tow or no tow Charles would be first. Did you see Carlos time in q2 it was faster then verstappen q3 qualifying time.

      The Merc is around 0,8 to a second behind the leading team’s and they are gonna be there rest of the season. You Merc fans all keep ignoring that Ferrari and Redbull are also upgrading there car.

      Just watching your comment and watching the fanboy hat talk is kind of sad.

      It’s not just the car and purposing that is the problem Merc are not faster then has on straights. That means they are also behind on engine Ferrari and Redbull are driving with horsepower Mercedes with ponypower.

      And hopefully you know there is a engine freeze to so Mercedes have a lot of work to even be close. First of all they need to understand there car and they still don’t. When they have figured there car out then they can play catch-up. But don’t be talking like Ferrari and Redbull don’t upgrade there car

    2. It still makes it a 0.8 second slower from Ferrari without the tow.

  2. Chin up. Tomorrow is a different day. If there is one thing I have learned this season, qualifying has almost lost its relevance.

    1. Yes, qualifying is not that important. Tires are.

  3. Go Lewis go!

  4. Anyone wanna bet Lewis takes out Perez in the first corner?

    1. Perez having contact on the first lap is becoming easy to predict lately

    2. If thats that case, then Perez had a really bad start to fall that far back for Hamilton to get near him; so it would be on Perez to put himself in that position. Perez isn’t exactly the most error free driver these past two seasons so it would not be surprising if something happened but I hope he does well.

      Again, Sad to see the hate for a driver; It’s totally unnecessary. Maybe instead just enjoy the sport and wish all the drivers well?

      1. You may have misunderstood me, but I do want Perez to do well.

        Perez and Hamilton start on the same row.

        One too many RB’s getting DNF’ed by Mercedes these past few seasons.

        1. Max drove Lewis off at least 5 times as often as the other way round.

          1. Thankfully this year the Mercs won’t get their front wheels anywhere near a RedBull rear wheel, unless they are getting lapped.

  5. Even factoring into account bad luck, Hamilton seemed to be out performed by Russel for many races this year. However, Mercedes occasionally said Hamilton was running experimental setups which would stop happening by Silverstone. I wondered if this was just an excuse but from Silverstone onwards he seems to have had the edge over Russel.

    1. A little light reading for you.

      https://www.express.co.uk/sport/f1-autosport/1615563/Lewis-Hamilton-sacrifice-theory-George-Russell-Mercedes-F1-news

      Lewis hamilton’s sacrifices for much of this season is the reason why Mercedes is more competitive now.

      Much of his practices P1 & P2 were given over to data gathering and experimenting with different rigs and experimental parts. Not unlike this weekend where he again had to sacrifice his first practice, whilst his team mate concentrates on getting the right setup for his car.

      1. Competitive how? They’ve not really moved forward. Their pace in Silverstone was not nu h better than Barcelona. And the car was undriveable in quali in Austria.

        1. But it was also pretty fast in austria if you could complete a lap without going off.

          1. The lap is close to a minute in Austria, it always makes the cars seem closer than they actually are to each other. In places like Spa with a longer lap there will be even more of a spread.

    2. This whole experimental set-up testing story is flawed, and just there to appease the fans.
      1) Hamilton is known to start his season slowly and excelling later on (not just last year, but most of his seasons against Bottas as well);
      2) one tends to experiment things which you expect to make you faster. It won’t be correct all the time, but testing new parts should give you a faster car in well over 50% of the cases (otherwise you have a much bigger issue).

      1. Nah. Brawn seems to agree that they’re experimenting

        1. I didn’t refer to the testing itself, but to that being the reason Hamilton was slower during the initial races.

          1. actually the convention throughout his career is Lewis starts strong, then tails off towards the end of the season. but sure, turn reality on its head to suit your narrative.

  6. Yo, learn to drive faster

  7. Still better than being a second and a half behind like his teammate.

  8. Russell said they were done experimenting with the car and this weekend it’s been a lot of experiments and they are still probably 30-40s back on race time, same as before. The car just seems inefficient. This is the most wind tunnel-like track on the calendar, where they can just slam the suspension get the car flat and stable. But they are slow on the straight, losing time in high speed big time.

  9. Hamilton experimenting with rear wing, is an indiction of what that first practice cost him. He of course had to sit out the first practice when that was given over to the alternative driver. He should have been settled and dialing in his set up by 3rd practice, instead he’s swapping rear wings. ugh!!!

    Hopefully that kind of experimenting will be behind him and he uses all his practices moving forward to get the car where he needs it to be

    Also we should see the Ferrari and the Red bulls come back towards the rest of the field, once they adopt the same floor as all the other teams. Their flexi floor is very likely good for half a second sec, if not more on this twisty downforce specific track.

  10. No sweat Lewis. FIA is coming to the rescue with new regulation on porpoising from SPA!

    1. You mean leveling the playing field so it’s the same for all teams, don’t you?

      1. Well, that’s a way to say it.
        Another one is: Mercedes forcing FIA to intervene using ‘safety’ as a scapegoat.
        Opposing teams are preparing a legal action against FIA…

      2. You mean leveling the playing field so it’s the same for all teams, don’t you?

        The playing field is perfectly ‘level’ right now.
        FIA merely decided to move to a different playing field from Spa, and then again from next year.

        1. The playing field may be level, but that doesn’t mean Ferrari and Red Bull’s floors are.

          1. Add a picture and you’re the Caption Competition winner ;)

    2. FIA wil close regulation loopholes rgd floors, which some teams exploited by some pretty flexible design. It was announces beforehand that loopholes will be closed, in case they turn up. But dont let facts interfere with your hate against HAM and Merc.

      1. You’re absolutely right that the flexible floor ‘loophole’ needs to be closed.
        But it is still very suspicious that FIA ordered a 25mm reduction in the ‘skirts’. That has nothing to do with the ‘loophole’ you mentioned.

        1. This will always happen when teams are behind and can’t catch up without a regulation change. I hope Merc don’t get their way and suffer for the next few years, just as everyone else did in their uncompetitive title winning years with the restrictive token system.
          Even if their lobbying works, I don’t think it will be the silver bullet they think it will be.

      2. Not against Lewis :)

  11. I think Merc have made an error with George this year, clearly does not help the team to get the car better. His race weekends are him making sure he is top 5.

    Bottas would have been a better fit for at least year 1 of new regulations due to his experience working with Ham/Team.

    Starting to doubt if Russell is of the same calibre as Leclerc/Max. If you take out Ham due to his age, Lando is probably 3rd best driver.

    1. Norris is certainly up there with them, also if you consider his superiority to ricciardo, which verstappen had as well by 2018, but russell seems to be much closer to hamilton on average than bottas was in the races.

      1. Nothing against Norris, but beating Ricciardo is not a great milestone. Ric is not a world beater, he beat Vettel as he was ‘underperforming’ out of his contract, then that is how he gained his reputation. At the time it was exciting, but in hindsight, nothing special as Vettel also took a year off when leaving Ferrari, he has a pattern of demotivated coasting on that last year with a team.

        Plus, Norris is embedded within McLaren, it’s his long term team and Ric is a short term thinking driver, he is jumping from pay cheque to pay cheque. He only real performances were in Red Bulls and that was a long time back, he has racked up more races outside Red Bull than other drivers have had entire careers in F1, and he is not setting the world on fire with his performances. He best performances this year is his excuse making.

        I used to think Ricciardo was WDC potential, but each year before testing he is practicing excuses, managing expectations down. He knows he is more interested in Drive to Survive than driving competitively.

        Norris on the other hand, still has confidence.

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