Lewis Hamilton hoped for more from Mercedes updates in Monaco

By Sports Desk May 26, 2023

Lewis Hamilton had hoped his revamped Mercedes would have propelled him closer to the front after he finished sixth in practice for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team arrived for the sixth round of the season in the sun-cooked principality armed with a major upgrade.

But after an encouraging start – with Hamilton briefly heading the order in the opening running of the weekend – the British driver ended the day half-a-second behind Max Verstappen, who finished fastest for Red Bull. George Russell was only 12th in the other Mercedes.

“It is a shame we were not as close as I hoped we would be at the end of the session,” said Hamilton.

“In P1, I thought, ‘Wow, maybe we’re looking pretty good’, but in P2 we were close to half-a-second off. I don’t think we have half a second in the bag.

“We’ve just got to keep chipping away to see if we can squeeze any more juice out of the cup.”

After giving up on this season’s car on the eve of the opening race in Bahrain, Mercedes have spent the ensuing dozen weeks working on a new design philosophy.

The Silver Arrows have abandoned their controversial zero-sidepod concept and introduced a new front suspension, new floor and cooling system in a drastic change of development on a car which has contributed to the longest losing streak of Hamilton’s career.

On Sunday, it will be 539 days since Hamilton last stood on the top step of the podium at the penultimate round of the contentious 2021 season in Saudi Arabia.

And although Mercedes are keen not to draw too many conclusions at this week’s unique Monte Carlo configuration – and believe the following round at the well-trodden Circuit de Catalunya venue on the outskirts of Barcelona will present them with a better understanding of where they stand – the evidence of practice suggests they are no closer to providing a real challenge to Red Bull.

Hamilton added: “It’s not really the place to test an upgrade, but the car was generally feeling good.

“It’s very clear where the lack of performance is, and we will talk about that in the debrief. Hopefully this gives us a platform to build on moving forwards.”

Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez are the only men to have won a race this year, but their rapid Red Bull is not necessarily suited to the narrow and slow-speed track in Monaco.

However, despite Perez managing only seventh in practice, Verstappen’s pace indicates he could still be the driver to beat.

Home favourite Charles Leclerc is ready to pounce – after he finished just 0.065 seconds back – with his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, who crashed out of second practice remaining following a mistake at the high-speed swimming pool chicane, third.

Fernando Alonso could be a contender, too. The Aston Martin driver, 41, took fourth spot, 0.220 sec adrift of Verstappen. Lando Norris finished fifth in his McLaren.

Related items

  • Bearman hoping to learn from Hamilton ahead of Ferrari arrival Bearman hoping to learn from Hamilton ahead of Ferrari arrival

    Oliver Bearman is looking forward to learning from seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton when he arrives at Ferrari next season. 

    Bearman, who came through the Ferrari Driver Academy, secured his seat on the grid in 2025 after signing with Haas ahead of the British Grand Prix. 

    The 19-year-old impressed on his debut, finishing seventh for the Italian team at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix after stepping in late for Carlos Sainz. 

    Hamilton secured his first victory of the season at Silverstone a week ago, ending a 945-day wait for a win, triumphing in the British Grand Prix for a record ninth time. 

    The triumph win the 104th of his career, and Bearman believes that experience will prove invaluable to Ferrari.

    "I think he'll bring a lot of experience to the team," Bearman told Sky Sports.

    "He's won seven world championships - that's something that not many people can say.

    "He'll bring a good mentality to the team, a winning mentality, but of course his talent is undeniable. He's one of the best to have ever done it."

    "It's great that in some way he can share his experience with me slightly," Bearman continued.

    Hamilton can set more records at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. No driver has won more races (eight), more pole positions (nine), reached more podiums (11) and scored more points (271) at the Hungaroring than Hamilton in the history of Formula 1.

    The Brit is also a podium away from reaching 200 in his career (49 with McLaren and 150 with Mercedes) and would become the first driver in history to reach that milestone.

    While Ferrari's driver line-up is set for at least the next couple of seasons with Hamilton and Charles Leclerc signed to multi-year deals, Bearman says his ultimate ambition is to emulate the seven-time world champion. 

    "Of course, I want to win world championships, and to do that with Ferrari is my dream. They've been supporting me since 2021.

    "They've seen something from me early on. They decided to trust in me, and even just to put me behind the wheel in Jeddah was a big risk from Ferrari's side.

    "So that shows that they believe in me, that they trust in my capability, and of course one day I would love to win a championship, especially with Ferrari."

    Bearman will make his fourth of six Practice One appearances with Haas this year in Friday's opening practice session at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

  • Fraser McConnell and ASXE make podium in Round Three of the Hydro X Prix in Scotland Fraser McConnell and ASXE make podium in Round Three of the Hydro X Prix in Scotland

    The European leg of Extreme E Season 4 kickstarted in spectacular fashion at the Hydro X Prix in Scotland on July 13-14. The dramatic Round Three saw impressive performances, with Jamaica’s Fraser McConnell and his teammate Laia Sainz driving the ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team (ASXE) to a commendable second place finish.

     McConnell was elated with their performance, sharing, “We managed to get second, amazing to be on the podium, so happy with the result, for the team, they worked so hard. The car was amazing. We had the pace in the final with the fastest lap to try and do something. Laia did an amazing job, incredible start and I’m so proud of her.”

     Sainz echoed McConnell’s sentiments, adding, “I think we can be really happy. Usually, the starts I’m not so good but today I think we did a good job for us, so happy tomorrow (Sunday). Let’s go.”

     In Heat 2, Timmy Hansen of Andretti Altawkilat led into turn one, closely followed by ASXE, NEOM McLaren XE, and RXR. RXR faced a setback after a spin and a dropped flag penalty, allowing NEOM McLaren XE to overtake ASXE for second place. However, a 10-second penalty for NEOM McLaren XE's Cristina Gutiérrez after a dropped Waypoint flag allowed ASXE to regain their position.

     Catie Munnings of Andretti Altawkilat held on to claim victory in Heat 2.

     In Heat 1 SUN Minimeal’s Timo Scheider made contact with E.ON Next Veloce’s Taylor while vying for the lead, resulting in an early 10-second penalty for SUN Minimeal. Despite leading at the Switch Zone, SUN Minimeal faced further challenges, including a puncture that sent Legacy M.C.'s Gray Leadbetter to the back of the pack.

     A fierce battle between E.ON Next Veloce’s Kevin Hansen and JBXE’s Andreas Bakkerud saw contact and subsequent spins, but Hansen eventually secured the overtake. SUN Minimeal’s Klara Andersson finished first but suffered a dramatic roll at the finish line and a time penalty, promoting E.ON Next Veloce to the top spot in the heat.

     

  • Bajan driver Maloney excited at prospects for remainder of F2 season Bajan driver Maloney excited at prospects for remainder of F2 season

    Having taken heart from his performance at the British Grand Prix, Barbadian Formula 2 driver Zane Maloney is even more upbeat about the prospects for the remainder of the season.

    Though he failed to secure a win, Maloney registered two podium finishes for his Rodin Motorsport team at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire, England. Those two second-place performances in the sprint and feature races, propelled Maloney back up the standings in third position on 101 points.

    The 20-year-old is now 32 points behind Frenchman Isack Hadjar of Compos Racing, and 16 points adrift Estonia’s Paul Aron of Hitech Pulse-Eight, who occupies second position.

    “To come away from the weekend with two P2s though, you can never complain. The only thing better is obviously Bahrain, but other than that, it’s the best weekend I’ve had in Formula 2, and I’m really happy about it,” Maloney said in an interview on the F2 website.

    Still, Maloney believes the results could have been more positive had certain things gone their way.

    “We struggled a bit in the sprint, but we know why looking back on it. Some things on my side, and some things that were out of our control, so we were confident going into the feature race even if it was wet.

    Maloney in action (Photo: Formula Motorsport Limited).

    “The feature was great. I think it was one of the best races I’ve done in a long time. Got a good start, made up three places up at turn 3, braking very late up the inside. We had great pace on the softs and the hards (tyres),” Maloney reasoned.

    He continued: “I was having to push really hard to try and make the moves. I made a move on one of the Invictas I think, and then it was all about having a good pitstop.

    “The team did a great stop, but unfortunately, I almost had a small crash in the pit lane, and I think that cost us the win. But after that, I had to push really hard to keep [Prema Racing driver] Ollie [Bearman of Great Britain] behind, killed the tyres a bit too much and struggled a bit at the end.”

    With his next assignment being the July 19-21 Hungarian Grand Prix, Maloney believes his Rodin team are now well-placed to challenge for the Championship.

    “I’ve never felt we were really out of the game to be honest. We’ve had one round that we struggled with pace in general, which was the [previous] round [in Speilberg, Austria], so to bounce back from that was amazing from the team,” Maloney declared.

    “But for seven of eight rounds, we’ve been up there, on the pace and on the money, so I’m confident about the weekends to come, we just need to be focused on executing each session as well as possible. Still, somethings to improve from my side, but that’s the thing in general as a racing driver, but I think we’re back in the fight,” he added.

    After Hungary, the championship will move to Belgium for July 26-28 action, followed by Italy for action from July 30 to August 1. The Azerbaijan meeting follows on September 13-15, with the November 29 to December 1 Qatar meeting, and Abu Dhabi action from December 6-8 to bring down the curtains on the season.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.