Lewis Hamilton interview ahead of Hungarian F1 Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton Unhappy with Handling of Mercedes Car at Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, expressed his disappointment with the handling of his Mercedes car during the Friday practice session at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. As rain curtailed the first practice session, Hamilton and six other drivers were unable to set a lap time. However, the second session saw limited running due to the teams conserving tyres for qualifying and the race under the new tyre allocation format.

Hamilton’s Struggles and Teammate Russell’s Perspective

Hamilton described his car’s performance as being “at its worst” during the practice session. The slow penultimate corner, a 180-degree left-hander towards the end of the lap, proved to be a challenging section for the Mercedes. Despite the difficulties, Hamilton remained optimistic and stated that the team would work on the car’s setup overnight. He drew upon last year’s experience when they were able to improve the car’s performance through setup changes.

“It wasn’t feeling good at all. It was feeling like the car at its worst today, but we’ll work on the setup tonight,” said Hamilton.

“Last year it felt terrible at the beginning and then we tuned it around with some setup changes. So we will work on that tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will feel better.”

George Russell, who drives for Williams, had a challenging session as well, finishing last in Practice Two. Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle pointed out that the Mercedes appeared to be “the worst car” in terms of handling through the penultimate corner. Russell, however, remained positive, explaining that their team followed a different program, using only one set of used tyres from the first practice session, which influenced their lap times. He looked forward to improvements as the weekend progressed, as is often the case for the team.

“It didn’t feel too bad in all honesty. We were obviously on a very different programme to everybody else. We only used one set of tyres throughout; it was a set of used tyres as well from FP1, so the lap times don’t really give a true representation. I’m sure tomorrow will be better,” said Russell.

“We are still just focused on trying to improve; we always know that we sort of tend to get better as the weekend progresses, which is the right way round for it to be. A few interesting things we learnt, even in that one session, so let’s see what we can do tonight.”

Challenges with the New Tyre Allocation Format

The Hungarian Grand Prix introduced a new tyre allocation format, reducing the number of tyre sets available to teams from 13 sets to 11 for the entire weekend. Additionally, the format required drivers to use hard tyres in Q1, medium tyres in Q2, and soft tyres in Q3 during the qualifying session. The change aimed to encourage teams to save new tyres for qualifying and the race. However, it left them with limited tyre sets for the three practice sessions.

Hamilton voiced his concerns about the new format, expressing that it resulted in less on-track action and reduced opportunities for fans to witness exciting moments. He suggested considering alternatives, such as reusing wet tyres, to address the issue of limited running during practice sessions.

“We only had one tyre that we were going to use this session. Not really a great format this change that they made for this weekend; it just means we get less running,” said Hamilton.

“Not ideal, and there’s a lot of wet tyres I think they throw away after every weekend, like a lot, maybe they should look at something like that rather than taking time on track away from the fans.”

Max Verstappen, the current championship leader, shared Hamilton’s sentiments regarding the new tyre allocation format. Verstappen explained that the limited tyre usage affected their preparation and track time. He expressed disappointment at the reduced running, considering the considerable number of fans present at the event.

“With this new format, you are super limited with the tyres you can use, and I didn’t want to use them today to at least have better preparation tomorrow,” Verstappen explained.

“It’s a shame. There are so many people around, and you basically don’t run a lot, so we will have to see what we can do to improve that. We are literally just saving tyres, which I think is not the correct thing.”

Norris’ Take on Rain and Challenges of Limited Tyres

Lando Norris, the McLaren driver, performed admirably in Practice Two, securing the second-fastest time. He mentioned that the rain during the earlier practice session offered more running opportunities. Without the rain, most teams would have had very limited running during Practice One. Norris acknowledged that the new format presented complexities and confusion, but he appreciated the challenge it brought for drivers and teams.

“I think we were lucky it rained, otherwise pretty much no one would have done anything in P1. It’s complicated, it’s confusing to me even,” Norris said.

Norris’ McLaren teammate, Oscar Piastri, shared similar thoughts, highlighting the difficulty of using as few tyres as possible while trying to learn as much as they can.

“It’s tricky. You’re trying to use as little amount of tyres as possible while learning as much as you can,” Piastri said.

“I think it would have been quite a limited day of running if it was fully dry. We probably saw more laps than we would have with the rain. It’s never that fun when you have one or two sets of tyres for a whole Friday, but it’s a new challenge for us all.”

F1’s live Hungarian GP schedule

Saturday July 22
8:45am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Hungarian GP Practice Three (session starts 11:30am)
1:10pm: F2 Sprint
2:15pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying build-up (Sky Showcase)
5pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday July 23
7:20am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
11am: Porsche Supercup
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Hungarian GP build-up
1:30pm: F1 Juniors: Hungarian Grand Prix (Sky Sports Mix and Sky Showcase)
4pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook


Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes faced handling issues during the Hungarian Grand Prix’s practice sessions. The new tyre allocation format introduced challenges for drivers and teams, with some expressing concerns over reduced track time and its impact on the fans’ experience. However, the format also showcased F1’s commitment to sustainability by saving tyres and reducing waste. The Hungarian Grand Prix promises excitement as drivers adapt to the unique circumstances and deliver thrilling performances for the fans.

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