Mercedes’ Hamilton – Car setup crucial to be competitive in Brazil

by Findlay Grant

Mercedes AMG Motorsport have had an overall positive start to the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos this weekend, despite the changeable weather conditions.

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas was second on the timing sheets in the first session, while his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, did not set a representative lap time, mainly due to the inclement weather.

Bottas completed a total of 10 laps, setting a 1:16.693 personal best in the first session. In the second, he ran 37 laps, setting a 1:09.373 best, which put him fourth.

Hamilton ran three laps total, and as he did not complete a timed run, finished the first session in twentieth place. In the second free practice session, he completed 39 laps and recorded a 1:09.440 personal best, placing him just behind his team-mate in fourth.

“The running in Free Practice 1 was compromised a bit owing to the weather, but the forecast for the weekend is looking better. I got a few laps in in the morning to do a bit of a systems check, but that was it,” said Bottas.

“The conditions in Free Practice 2 were a lot better, so we managed to do a good programme in the afternoon.

“I started on the Hard tyre to collect some data but it was tricky on a green track with that compound.

“We then switched to the Soft tyre which changed the behaviour of the car quite a bit and we made a good step forward in terms of grip levels.”

Bottas said there doesn’t seem to be much between the lap times of the top teams, meaning they are more competitive than they appear to be, confident they will be able to fight with Red Bull and Scuderia Ferrari.

“I had a bit of traffic in my fast laps and the times at the top look very close, so I think we are actually more competitive than the standings might suggest.

“I think both Ferrari and Red Bull look very strong, but we should be right up there as well, so I’m looking forward to a good fight.

Hamilton feels confident heading into qualifying, despise having done very little running in the wet conditions.

“I didn’t really go out in the first session when the track was wet. The afternoon session was nice and smooth, we started on a good baseline and made a couple of adjustments in the short space of time that we had in that session,” said the Briton.

“We will do more work tonight to refine the car which is going to be quite crucial as we only really have two sessions to get it right for qualifying, so it’s compacted a little more and we need to be a little bit more precise with the changes that we make,” he added.

Technical director James Allison is confident the team are as prepared as they can be, heading into qualifying and the race.

“After a fairly washed out first session it was nice to get the car running in the second session and broadly it was a good day. The car is reasonably well balanced and it looks pretty useful on the long-run simulations,” said Allison.

He knows the team still have work to do to find consistent pace over one lap, but believes it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for them.

“We’ve got a little bit to find in the short runs ahead of qualifying tomorrow so we’ve got some work to do overnight.

“We’ve also got some thinking to do because although it was dry this afternoon, the track and air temperatures are not going to be representative of Sunday. But all in all it’s been a promising start to the weekend.”

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