Hamilton: "Small progress" not enough to overcome gap to Red Bull in Austria

Lewis Hamilton says the “small progress” Mercedes has made with its Formula 1 car since last weekend won’t be enough to close the gap to Red Bull in Austria.

Hamilton: "Small progress" not enough to overcome gap to Red Bull in Austria

Max Verstappen scored a dominant victory for Red Bull in the Styrian Grand Prix last Sunday, leading every lap as he extended his championship lead over Hamilton to 18 points.

Hamilton felt after the race that it was “impossible” to catch up with Verstappen, having said earlier in the weekend that there was a 0.2 second per lap gap between the two teams.

Mercedes wanted to work out ahead of the second race at the Red Bull Ring if a “wacky” car set-up had caused it to struggle so much, with Hamilton making a rare appearance in the team’s simulator earlier this week.

Hamilton managed to lead a 1-2 for Mercedes in second practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday, finishing 0.217s clear of Verstappen in third place.

But Hamilton remained confident that Red Bull has “definitely got some extra [pace] in their bag”, and that the gains Mercedes had made were not enough to overcome the deficit.

“We’ve made some small progress today, but I think they still have the two-tenths, or maybe it’s a tenth-and-a-half, something like that,” Hamilton said.

“We’ve definitely made some small steps forward, but not enough to close that, it’s not the two-tenths. But over a single lap, that felt OK, it felt pretty good.

“I just expect them to turn up a little more tomorrow. They’ve almost basically got like the qualifying mode that we used to have. I’m gonna ask my guys, I don’t understand where they get it front.

“But it’s impressive and we’ve got to work hard to see if we can match it somehow.”

Practice on Friday offered far cooler conditions compared to one week earlier, as well as offering drivers a softer selection of tyres to use, switching to the C3/C4/C5 range.

Hamilton found the car to be “a bit of a struggle” through FP1 as he tried different set-ups that had been tested in the simulator, before moving closer to what he ran with last week.

“I was trying different variants of the car, and the car wasn’t happy, so then I had to make the change back to similar to what I had last week,” Hamilton said.

“But again, with some other adjustments, it felt much better. I’m generally happy with where the car is.

“I’m probably not going to change too much, because most often, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Most of the time, we always try to eke out more, and it gets worse. I’ll be doing the tiniest of tweaks.”

Hamilton cast doubt on Mercedes’ ability to overcome the one-lap pace deficit to Red Bull over the long runs in the race, feeling the gap would remain stable.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I’m pretty sure it stays the same,” Hamilton said.

“Whatever gap they’re going to have tomorrow is usually the gap they seem to have on a Sunday.

“But we’ll be pushing, trying to make that gap as small as possible tomorrow, and if we can improve the car at all tonight, then great.

“I’d like to think that our long run was OK, I’m going to have to have a see, have a look now. I obviously had my off, but we’ll wait and see.”

Read Also:

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished second in FP2, 0.189s off Hamilton’s lap time, and also noted progress with the Mercedes W12 car.

“For the second week, every single margin in terms of cornering performance and driving performance becomes less,” Bottas said.

“It's more about fine tuning, rather than finding big chunks of time.

“I think we started OK, in terms of how the call feels, much better than last week and hopefully we can build from that.”

shares
comments

Related video

AlphaTauri F1's Tsunoda "improving really well" after move to Italy
Previous article

AlphaTauri F1's Tsunoda "improving really well" after move to Italy

Next article

F1 Austrian GP qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more

F1 Austrian GP qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022