(Baku) Lewis Hamilton said he was hopeful that Mercedes had made a step towards challenging the Formula 1 champions and noted that the “trouble” at the start of the season had brought the team together.
Updated June 10
Before the presentation of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, the seven-time champion has only one podium in seven races, his worst start to the season since 2009. Mercedes had to rebuild the car that had started the year with the “porpoising” problem that makes the seats of one person flying at high speed.
“Shall I say this is the best and most exciting adventure yet?” No! But it’s experience and it brings the team together, Hamilton revealed on Friday. It forces us all to sharpen our tools. Technology is so advanced and begging to be understood, and we are closer than ever. I think that’s what happens when you face adversity, and so there’s a lot and a lot of good. »
Hamilton added that the team’s improvements at last month’s Spanish Grand Prix “showed us the direction to go and that has been positive” as he and team-mate George Russell try to catch up with title contenders Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Charles Leclerc. of Ferrari.
Russell is still chasing his first F1 win and has warned that Mercedes will be left behind Red Bull and Ferrari in Baku, Azerbaijan, and need more time to develop their car to compete against the top teams.
“The car we had (for the first race of 2022) in Bahrain, that was kind of at its peak and we couldn’t improve it from there,” he said. Sometimes you have to take one small step back to take three steps forward, and I think we’re in that transition process right now. I think it will be a few more races before we start to see us hopefully fighting with Ferrari and Red Bull. »
Championship leader Verstappen and Leclerc both disappointed last year in Azerbaijan. The Dutchman’s tire blew out at high speed and sent him flying into the wall in a fatal crash, while Leclerc started in the lead but lost pace and dropped to fourth. This echoes the Monegasque’s recent struggles – he has taken the lead in each of the last three races, but has been unable to convert any of them into victory as Verstappen moves ahead of him in the standings. The last race in Monaco was a bit of a bummer for him, as Ferrari made a questionable decision during the field which cost him the chance to win on home soil.
“Obviously in Monaco there was a lot to analyze because we made mistakes,” said Leclerc, nine points behind Verstappen in the standings. What gives me confidence for the future is that we have found reasons to make these mistakes as a team. […] It is clear that we should focus on ourselves, not to make any more mistakes. And if we do everything perfectly, I’m sure we can get a good result this weekend. »
Last year’s winner in Baku was Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez, and the Mexican goes into the weekend full of confidence after his victory in Monaco and a new contract with Red Bull. Now a title contender for his part, 15 points behind Verstappen, Pérez claimed contract negotiations did not define him as Verstappen’s pawn.
“There’s nothing in my contract that says I have to finish second or anything like that,” he said. So it was not a subject at all in the contract. »
Pérez has also shown his ambition by signing a reference period for the first trial period.
Leclerc, however, robbed him of the best time of the day in the second free practice session, as he tried to turn the page on a recent drop in performance.
Leclerc set the pace for the ‘Scuderia’ in one minute and 43.224 seconds, cutting 0.248 seconds off Perez’s time and 0.356 off Verstappen’s time.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso set the fourth fastest time for Alpine, ahead of fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr.
For his part, Hamilton got 12e chrono, five places behind Russell.
The Briton separated his two Aston Martin teammates, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, who respectively won 11.e and 13e puts it more than 1.5 seconds behind Leclerc.
“Although I ignored the safety barrier, it didn’t affect our program and I didn’t damage anything, so I avoided the worst. My goal today was to find the rhythm of the circuit and push the limits of the car,” explained the Mont-Tremblant driver.
For its part, the Monegasque has led in the last three races, but has not always been able to reach the checkered flag first. He also started from the front row last year in Baku, before finishing just off the podium in the race.
Verstappen has a nine-point lead over Leclerc in the overall standings.
On the other hand, Mick Schumacher had to stop due to a water leak in his Haas car, while Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi had to park his Williams car due to a sudden loss of engine power.
With Canadian Journalists