Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes not to ‘mess up’ after solid Friday practice

Lewis Hamilton warns Mercedes not to 'mess up' after solid Friday practice

Lewis Hamilton has warned his Mercedes team not to ‘mess up’ with many setup changes at the Japanese Grand Prix following a solid Friday practice.

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has warned Mercedes against making too many changes that could ruin his Japanese Grand Prix weekend following his ‘best session’ with the W15 car at Suzuka.

Hamilton has endured the worst start to a season ever in his final campaign as a Mercedes driver before joining Ferrari in 2025, placing no better than seventh in the first three races this year.

At the last race in Australia, Hamilton’s inconsistent start to the season got to a new low when his engine failed after only 15 laps. He admitted over the Melbourne weekend that he was “the least confident” he had ever been in the Mercedes following his elimination from the second qualifying round.

However, Hamilton enjoyed a solid start in the Japanese Grand Prix after finishing the opening Friday session in fifth place and only half a second behind the leader, Max Verstappen. Although the bad weather hampered FP2 running, the Brit was nevertheless in high spirits.

After the second practice, Hamilton said the W15 is in a better position in Japan and he asked Mercedes not to tweak the setup excessively as he believed it could “mess up” his weekend.

“It was a great session, it was a really good session for us,” the 39-year-old said. “It was the best session that we’ve had this year, it’s the best the car has felt this year so far. So far, pretty positive.

“I was really excited because this is a circuit that every driver loves to drive. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and a difficult balance to drive here.

“And given the difficult last few races we’ve had, great work has been done this past week and we just seem to have hit the ground a bit more in a sweeter spot.

“So, I haven’t really made any changes since [FP1]. I think we’ve got a better platform or baseline to start from, so as long as we don’t make too many changes and eff it up… I think probably just stay where we are and hopefully we’ll get a [good weekend].”

On the other hand, George Russell who has handled his unpredictable car better than his teammate so far this year, gave the same verdict at the end of the day.

“We definitely performed better than we expected, so that was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “The car was feeling really nice to drive, and Lewis and I were really happy with the balance.

“It has been performing better when it’s been slightly colder, but we’ve been doing a lot of test items to try and make that car a little bit more consistent when conditions are variable, so time will tell.

“FP2 was definitely a miss for everybody as we had some interesting things we wanted to try, but that’s the nature of Formula 1 sometimes.”

Notwithstanding the upsides, Russell believes it will have no bearing on Mercedes’ performance in Saturday’s qualifying.

“I think it’s going to be very challenging because it’s a clear one-lap tyre in qualifying,” he added.

“You can’t do multiple laps on the tyre. Most drivers may only have three sets for qualifying, four sets for qualifying, so you’ve got to be nailing those laps on every opportunity if you want any hope of getting to Q3 with two sets of new tyres.

“But I think you’re going to see quite high degradation, and that’s where the focus is going to be.”

A significant drop in FP2 running has been attributed to a rule change for the F1 2024 season, which eliminated the provision for teams to bring spare tyres in case a session happens to be wet. Hamilton has questioned the rationale for the rule change.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get that [FP2] session,” he said. “They have changed the tyre rule, so therefore no one goes out and drives runs on the intermediate. It just doesn’t make sense, really, but there you go.”

Leave a Reply