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Hamilton didn't do anything 'crazy' and finally enjoyed it – that's how happy seventh place made him

Hamilton didn't do anything 'crazy' and finally enjoyed it – that's how happy seventh place made him

Lewis Hamilton beat George Russell for the first time this year, and although he still only gets a fourth-row seat, he definitely feels that Mercedes has finally found something.

Lewis Hamilton described Friday at Suzuka as his best day of the year, his car felt its best, and their performance finally promised a better result than usual. However, they finished the qualifying session in seventh and ninth places, more than half a second behind the Red Bulls. This can't even be called the best result for the qualifying team this year.

However, there was something unusual in this result: for the first time this year, it was not George Russell, but Lewis Hamilton who was fastest on the lap. This difference can also be felt in the seven-time world champion's mood. But not only because of the internal victory, but also because of the step the car took.

“I gave it my all! The team did a great job this week in terms of understanding the car and adjusting the settings.”

“It's actually the first weekend where I didn't go crazy with the settings, tested a bunch of things, and it kind of came back to normal.”

– Explaining his previous defeats and his current victory at the same time Sky Sportsto.

“We got the car into a much better operating range. It was really fun to drive. The others are simply a little faster. Last year, our deficit compared to Red Bull was more than one second here, and now it's seven-tenths better. If we had done something a little different, Maybe we could have found another tenth, but apart from that, it was the limit.

Lewis Hamilton (Image: XPB)

However, Hamilton doesn't just feel better closing the gap. “Now I can feel exactly where our car is not good enough and I can tell the team that they need to work on that specific area. Hopefully we will be better in the competition. I have really enjoyed the drive this weekend so far.” He said.

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When asked if he and Mercedes had finally found a direction, he confirmed:

“I personally think so, yes. We know that it is very difficult to get the right setup for each track, and we were always very far from that. In some places, it felt like there was nothing we could do to get the car into the area. However, at the end of this “This week, he is in the zone much more. I hope it will be the same in the next races and then we can start improving the performance.”

Hamilton's current seventh position is his best starting position of the year. That says it all about their season so far. Although it is far from the desired results, the Briton seemed more enthusiastic this time than any other time during the weekends. “Of course I'm not satisfied with seventh place. There were moments when we were ahead, and of course I was hoping we could get a little closer. It wasn't written that way. However, I'm satisfied with the way the weekend has ended so far in terms of improving the settings.” “I am much more satisfied with the car's driving ability. We have made serious progress with what we have. But of course we still need to improve our performance a lot.” – Putting their findings in context.

Lewis Hamilton (Image: XPB)

Regarding the continuation, he stressed that he has self-confidence, and believes that they can nevertheless wage a battle against their direct competitors. “I really hope so. I think it will be very close between all of us. In the time trial, it was about half a tenth of the top six or seven places. Very tight. I hope our car will do well in the race. It will all depend on tire management and strategy tomorrow. Changes to Wheel and get the best out of everything on the go. Hopefully we can jump on the few people in front of us.

“I'm excited. I know it's only seventh place, not the greatest, but we can build on that.” – Summarize.

Because they backed away from the time trial again

While Hamilton is in better form, at the same time, Russell, who has been leading so far, has fallen behind in Japan. So the pattern for 2023 will continue: one Britons will always be at a greater disadvantage than the other. Throughout qualifying, he struggled more than Mercedes, and was slower than his teammate throughout.

Russell was now more than a tenth of a second off his fast lap, giving him ninth place. He feels anything can happen in the race on Sunday. “The battle against Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin is very close. If you are in good shape, you are at the beginning of this race, and if not, you are at the end.” The winner of the one-time race explained.

He also explained why they fall behind compared to free training. once again.

“We knew this track was going to be a challenge for us. We know our limits: they are fast corners. In the time trial, you will go through each corner faster, and in the fast first sector, you will go about five to fifteen miles per hour faster than you did yesterday. “That's why our car was weak. So I expect better tomorrow.”

Russell hopes they can work their way up the competition from here. “Anything can happen. Everyone is different with tyres. Fernando only has one hard tire and one medium tire, so he will have to do a stage on the soft tire. Ferrari has two medium cars, we have two hard cars. There are many different tactics possible, there are many options.” “It can be a good race, but it is so close that if you do well you can improve four to six places, whereas last year you could only see the sky.” Russell stated.

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