George Russell said he’s “taken a step backwards” from Friday practice after qualifying eighth for the Japanese Grand Prix. Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free The Mercedes driver qualified three tenths of a second behind team mate Lewis Hamilton . The pair will share the fourth row of the grid, but were over a second away from pole position. Russell comfortably led his team mate in both Friday practice sessions at Suzuka. Yesterday he appeared to be in the hunt for second place behind eventual pole winner Max Verstappen , lapping close to the times set by the McLaren drivers and Charles Leclerc. However he admitted he didn’t get the best out of his car on Saturday. “There’s a sweet spot when it comes to circuits like this, which is very difficult to find and when you’re not there you can be quite far off the pace,” Russell explained. “We saw yesterday I was more competitive, we were much closer yesterday to the rest of the pack than we were today. … [Read more...] about Russell admits he “took a step backwards” after Friday practice
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Suzuka’s high-speed corners amplified a weakness of Mercedes’ car and left their drivers on the fourth row of the grid over a second behind pole-winner Max Verstappen . Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free Lewis Hamilton said he made strides with his car’s set-up after a difficult Friday but could not overcome the shortcoming of its lack of rear-end grip. “Yesterday was a nightmare, not the kind of balance that you want on a track like this,” said Hamilton. “But we did some great work overnight, the car was feeling much nicer to drive today like it’s as good a balance as we could possibly get. “It’s just massively down on rear downforce, so we can’t carry anywhere near the speeds as these guys are carrying through that first sector.” Mercedes have found it consistently difficult to dial their car in from track to track this year. “We have a very peaky car,” said Hamilton. “When we talk about knife-edge [handling], it’s literally like trying to balance … [Read more...] about Suzuka layout ‘punishes’ Mercedes’ weakness in high-speed corners
Reports of Red Bull’s reign of dominance over the 2023 season coming to an end have been greatly exaggerated. Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free In a year when competition between their rivals behind has been as unpredictable as it has been gripping, Red Bull have routinely rocked up to paddocks across the globe only to crush all opposition with near-militaristic execution. Then, in Singapore, a rare stumble from the world champions offered hope that the Red Bull giant could indeed be toppled. Yet six days later, Red Bull and Max Verstappen reminded everyone just how powerful a combination they are when they stormed to pole position in Suzuka by one of the biggest margins of the season – and the largest for nearly 20 years at the famous Japanese circuit. Not that it was of any surprise to their opposition. “Our internal messaging was ‘expect them to be back out front when we get back to Suzuka’,” admitted Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew … [Read more...] about Verstappen sitting pretty but unexpectedly hot track could cook up drama
After a "nightmare" Friday, Hamilton was much happier with his W14 thanks to overnight changes, but he still faced a tricky balance come qualifying. As high as fourth in Q2, Hamilton took seventh place in Q3, immediately ahead of team-mate George Russell . The outcome clearly benchmarked the Mercedes as the fourth-best car at Suzuka after the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari . Hamilton admitted that he couldn't have got any more out of the car after some set-up changes overnight. "I was really much, much happy with qualifying," he noted. "Yesterday, it started off looking like it was not going to be so great! But I think the set-up was in the right direction. And then from P3 to qualifying, I made another setup change. "And I was really happy with that. But just really hard to pull any more out of it. I'm already on the knife-edge with the rear end the whole way through the lap, all the way through." He added: "We have a very peaky car. When we talk about … [Read more...] about Hamilton: Lack of rear downforce leaves W14 on “knife-edge” at Suzuka
The iconic figure-of-eight track has always been punishing on its rubber, but things could well be a bit more extreme this time around. Race day is expected to be another scorcher, and complaints that George Russell mentioned on Friday about a "strange" sliding have been caused by a track surface that has had a 15% drop in macro roughness (so effective grip) compared to 12 months ago. As Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said: "Especially with the very warm temperatures this year, the overheating is really, really bad. So, I expect that it [the race] will be all about the tyre management and the strategy." A two-stopper looks nailed on then, but it comes with not all teams having the luxury of what appears to be the ideal tyre allocation to get them through without much drama. F1 tyre supplier Pirelli thinks the best approach to the race is to start on the soft, run through until laps 12-18, and then split the rest of the grand prix up into two hard stints. But that is … [Read more...] about Are Red Bull and Ferrari on back foot for potential Japanese GP tyre wrecker?
Carlos Sainz Jnr believes a late change to his car’s set-up compromised his qualifying result for the Japanese Grand Prix. Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free The Ferrari driver who took pole position for the last two rounds qualified sixth at Suzuka. His Q3 lap time was almost a second slower than that of pole winner Max Verstappen . After finishing Friday’s practice sessions second and fourth, Sainz attempted a different set-up for Saturday which affected his preparation on a circuit where he expected Ferrari would struggle. “We knew before coming here that this track would expose us a bit more with the high-speed characteristics,” said Sainz. “It was never going to be easy. I took the approach yesterday and this morning to try different things on the car. “By quali I saw it was not quite working, and we had to go back to a more basic set-up which in the end probably ended up compromising my quali preparation and my weekend in general.” Sainz was … [Read more...] about Sainz blames late set-up change for qualifying performance at Japanese GP
The legendary father of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz believes Fernando Alonso has earned the right to decide when he retires from F1. Despite turning 42 in July, Alonso has enjoyed his most competitive season in years in 2023 by claiming seven podium finishes with the Aston Martin team. However, Sainz was the one flying the flag for Spain at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix where the Ferrari star secured his second F1 victory with arguably the greatest drive of his career to date. Fernando Alonso praised by Carlos Sainz’s father Alonso, who became Spain’s first F1 World Champion in 2005, acted as something of a mentor to Sainz in his early career, though it has been claimed in 2023 that the relationship between them has suffered of late . Sainz’s father, Carlos Sainz Sr, is Spain’s original motorsport icon having won two World Rally Championships in the early 1990s. And having won the challenging Dakar Rally event as recently as 2020, the 61-year-old is in awe of … [Read more...] about Carlos Sainz’s father weighs in on Fernando Alonso F1 retirement debate