George Russell says that whilst it was pleasing to end the opening day of practice for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix with the quickest time, he knows it is only Friday and the important sessions are still to come.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver had finished the morning session at the Miami International Autodrome second fastest behind Charles Leclerc, but the two drivers switched positions in the afternoon, the Briton posting a time of 1:29.938 to lead the way.
Russell felt it was the most productive Friday for the team so far in 2022, although he acknowledges that the porpoising seen with the W13 is likely to continue beyond this weekend.
“We always knew that the warm conditions here in Miami would suit our car better – we’ve suffered with getting temperature in the tyres at previous races so that’s a big factor here,” said Russell.
“The car is running well but it’s only Friday, we’re not getting carried away. It’s probably been the most productive Friday we’ve had this season in terms of learning. We know that the porpoising will always be there but maybe it’s working at a lower range compared to where we were previously.”
Russell says that some tracks will suit Mercedes more than others, and Miami is certainly a better track than the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari was two weeks ago.
“You generally have races that go in your favour and some that go against you – Imola obviously wasn’t a strong circuit for us but from what we’ve seen so far, the car seems to work well around Miami,” he said.
“It’s a unique circuit, I was a bit unsure how I would take to the slow-speed tight section underneath the bridge, it’s a bit of a head-banger through there, but for the rest, they’ve done an amazing job – undulating in sections, with high-speed corners, I think it’s great for the fans.”
“We seem to be quicker and we’ve obviously improved in places” – Lewis Hamilton
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton ended fourth fastest in the afternoon session, but he, like Russell, says it is too early to judge what Mercedes’ pace is this weekend compared to their rivals.
The seven-time World Champion believes the team have made progress with their W13 this weekend, but there is still work to do to solve the porpoising that is affecting them, although the effects do not seem to be as extreme in Miami as in previous weekends.
“Today is just practice and everyone is doing something different, not showing their true pace, so we won’t get carried away,” said Hamilton. “The car feels similar to me but we seem to be quicker and we’ve obviously improved in places.
“We still have the bouncing so we haven’t cured it but bit by bit, we’re improving the car.”
Hamilton believes the inaugural Miami race is going to be a tough one due to the high temperatures at the track, with overheating tyres likely to be a problem.
“The race is going to be tough, particularly with the tyres overheating and it’s very hot for the drivers, I’ve already lost a couple of kilos today,” Hamilton added. “The heat reminds me a little bit of driving in Malaysia – Kuala Lumpar is still number one in terms of the heat, then Singapore, and now here in Miami.
“There are positive elements to take from today, George looked great out there and the team are trying a lot of different things with our cars, so we’ll converge and hopefully take another step forward tomorrow.”