Lewis Hamilton branded it “crazy” how the Mercedes W13 suffers performance swings from track to track after a tough Friday in Hungary.
Hamilton was unable to break into the top 10 in the second practice session at the Hungarian Grand Prix, ending the hour 1.1 seconds off the pace of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who topped FP2.
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted that the team made the wrong set-up changes heading into FP2, and from the “glimpses” which Hamilton had of the W13 in its working window, he expects the ultimate gap to the top of the timings to be around a second.
But having felt far from content behind the wheel, Hamilton spoke of a trend with the W13 that sees it “swing from track to track” in terms of performance.
Tricky FP2 for us. Plenty of work to do overnight, so we'll get our heads down and come back stronger tomorrow ? pic.twitter.com/weJg4trHhI
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 29, 2022
“The car was a struggle today,” Hamilton told reporters after FP2 in Hungary. “It’s crazy how it swings from track to track and tonight we’ll be working on setup to try and get the car working.
“At the moment, it’s a little loose and not doing what we want it to do. Not much has changed since last week, I’m still the same driver! But for some reason at this track, the car isn’t working as well.
“In the glimpses where it was working, we were still down a second which was actually similar to last week.”
As for Mercedes’ pace over a race distance, which has generally been their strength this season, Hamilton revealed that he has not got much of a feel for the long-run pace in Hungary yet.
“I didn’t get much chance of a long run at the end because I sustained some damage to my floor and lost a lot of downforce,” Hamilton explained.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend, but we’ll give it everything.”
George Russell, who ended FP2 in P8, said that the day had been more like a test session for Mercedes, with experiments taking place in the view of more long-term gains.
As for the weekend ahead, he expects the goalposts to shift after Friday practice, with rain expected on Saturday before a dry Sunday, but with conditions cooler than the ones experienced on Friday.
“It definitely hasn’t been our smoothest Friday this season,” Russell admitted, “a bit of a strange one because we think it’s going to be wet for qualifying tomorrow and then different again on Sunday.
“We tried quite a few things with the car and used today as a test session so while it’s been a tough day, it’s probably been a productive one.
“Today was about gathering lessons long-term rather than maximising our lap times, but we were further behind than we probably expected with a couple of issues here and there.
“Tomorrow is going to be a totally new day and Sunday will also be a very different day.”
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