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Hamilton "had a blast" in Suzuka F1 wet race, Ocon battle "the most fun"

Lewis Hamilton reckons his battle with Esteban Ocon for fifth place in the Japanese Grand Prix was “the most fun” aspect of the rain-affected Formula 1 race.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Hamilton spent much of the race chasing the Frenchman, attempting a number of moves at the Hairpin, the exit of Spoon, and into the first corner - but couldn't find a way through and eventually crossed the line just 0.641s behind in sixth.

The seven-time world champion knew before the race that a straight-line speed disadvantage would be a handicap in the race, while the wet conditions meant that there was no DRS to provide a benefit.

Despite losing out to the Alpine driver, Hamilton explained that he had enjoyed the race and the challenge provided by the conditions.

“I had a lot of fun,” when asked about the battle with Ocon. “He did a great job staying on track and staying ahead, obviously he was very, very quick on the straights.

“I was trying everything, but I think we had the most fun. I don't know how other people had it.”

Although unable to get past Ocon, Hamilton felt satisfied with his race and felt that he had got the most out of the car with his straightline speed disadvantage.

He added that getting going in the wet conditions was "what motor racing is about", particularly as the Japanese fans had waited three years for an F1 race at Suzuka.

"I don't feel frustrated, because it was a sprint race. I did the best I could, and I'm happy that we at least got some points today. We were just so slow in a straight line. I was getting close, as close as I could.

“You could probably see it on the TV, as soon as I pulled out they would just pull away. I wish it was a longer race.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

"I'm glad that we got some laps for the fans here. Although it's not really a massive race for them, considering how long they waited.

"I think it was awesome. I mean, that's what motor racing is about. I had a blast. It was so tough, so hard to see.

“I think the restart that we had at the end, I think it was perfect timing, and I just wish we could have gone longer into a bit of the dark. We lost a little bit of the light."

Regarding the conditions at first start prior to the red flag he said: “It seems like there's maybe more spray this year with these cars. And I think we probably all should have started on extreme wets. But when we did the laps to the grid, it was inters.

“I guess it just then started to rain a bit more. But I think if we had all started on extremes we would have just kept going, and it would have been fine. It was definitely tough with the visibility, but it was awesome at the same time.”

Hamilton remains hopeful that Mercedes can make progress in 2023 after a difficult season with the W13.

“I think for us we know what the problems are with this car. I believe that we as a team we've not gone from being world champions to not being able to build a good car.

“I have no doubt that we'll have a better car next year. Whether or not we've rectified every issue that we have this year, we'll find out when we get there."

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