Lewis Hamilton and George Russell say Mercedes has definitely improved its car after a strong Friday of practice at the British Grand Prix.
Mercedes has struggled with bumpy street circuits in recent rounds but was targeting a more competitive showing on the smooth Silverstone surface that should suit its car. With a number of floor upgrades introduced, Hamilton ended up second in FP2 and with strong race pace he believes the team has made a clear step forward.
“The upgrade wasn’t anything to do with ride, it’s just literally downforce and it’s difficult to feel it because they are two massively different tracks,” Hamilton said. “It’s coming from a low-speed circuit to a normal medium and high-speed circuit, so didn’t get to feel the car like this last week.
“But it’s much smoother as a track, much better. More like Barcelona but this is the best track. It’s still hair-raising and it’s epic to drive. We’re fighting the car. Our long-run pace isn’t as good as the other guys but it’s not miles off. So definitely made an improvement and overnight we’ll be working on it.”
Hamilton believes there could be more to come from the updated Mercedes given the fact the first practice session was hit by some heavy showers that made for tricky track conditions.
“It has been a good day. I wish that we could get more running in FP1, but that beautiful weather that we get at Silverstone is what makes it so special, because it can be raining on half the track and dry elsewhere. It was just wet through Turn 6 and 7, Turn 9 and then it was pretty much dry everywhere else, so that made it difficult to stay on the inters because they were getting destroyed and then it was too wet for slicks. But we got some good running still.
“I got about 10 laps, which I was really happy with. I don’t think many people got that. And then in P2, feeling pretty good. It’s bouncing still, quite a bit. Not necessarily in a straight line but through the corners it’s pretty harsh — not physically harsh. So we’ve still got work to do but it feels like a small step forwards. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Hamilton and Russell were happy not to be porpoising on the straights, but this time the corners were the challenge. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Teammate Russell was unable to match Hamilton’s headline lap time as he ended up eighth overall, but he was encouraged by the race pace Mercedes delivered.
“I’m not too sure (where the pace was) to be honest, we need to look into it,” Russell said. “I struggled on the low fuel, much more compared to Lewis — he put in a really strong lap.
“The high fuel was definitely more promising, I think, compared to the McLaren who was on the hard — the same as us — we were a lot quicker and then by the end when the tires warmed up we were quicker than the Ferraris. By the end they were degging off; we were just improving lap after lap. There are some positive signs there but there’s definitely room to improve for sure.
“We knew that through the corners in the high speed was going to be a bit of a challenge and that has turned out to be true. Through Copse and Maggotts and Becketts the car is bouncing around, so we need to try and understand that. But there was no porpoising down the straights, which is at least one positive sign. So as I said there are positives there, we just need to dial into it and really maximize it.”