Lewis Hamilton says it was a ‘kick in the gut’ for Mercedes to be so far behind Red Bull at the end of Friday’s practice and enter Miami GP qualifying day with no expectations .
The signs had initially looked promising for Mercedes after George Russell led Hamilton in a surprise brace in training number onealthough their times were set when track conditions were best.
But on Friday afternoon Mercedes’ struggles returned as Hamilton finished the session seventh, 0.928 seconds behind Max Verstappen’s lead time and behind Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris as well as both Ferrari and Red Bull. Russell, meanwhile, finished 15th.
“We’re not particularly quick and it’s a struggle out there,” Hamilton said on Friday night.
“We’re trying a lot of different things. P1 looked pretty good, then going into P2 and the real rhythm came out – it’s a kick in the gut.
“It’s hard to take at times but that’s okay, we’ll keep working on it and we’ll regroup tonight and see if we can make some set-up changes and get the car in a better place.”
He added: “I’m trying to stay positive with it and we’re working as hard as we can. It’s just that we’re dying, we desperately need those upgrades for sure.
“I just have to keep my head down for one more race and hopefully we start a new path in the next race.”
A year ago, Mercedes dominated a Friday practice session at the inaugural Miami GP before Russell suffered a Q2 exit and Hamilton could only manage sixth in qualifying on Saturday.
And the seven-time world champion just hopes to make it into Q3 given the difficulty he is having with the W14 this weekend.
“I have no expectations. The car, I just hope I can put it in a better place tomorrow. Hopefully we can be in Q3 and if we can be in the middle of that top 10 that would be great. “Hamilton said. .
“In Melbourne it was night and day, much nicer to drive there. Baku felt better than here too. Maybe it’s the heat or maybe it’s the balance that we have right now.
“I’m going to stay optimistic and I’m going to keep hoping that we can put the car in a better place tomorrow and maybe take a few steps forward.
“But I feel like apart from last year we had some big-scale rebounds, we generally feel like we’re driving pretty much the same car and that’s the hardest thing. .”
Russell: We can still beat the Ferraris and the Astons
Russell’s tough second session saw him at one point complain that his car felt “three-wheeled” into turn two.
The 25-year-old believes he and the team understand why he struggled in his attempts at soft tires on Friday and remains hopeful Mercedes can still edge out Ferraris and Aston Martins on race day.
“Those are nice margins,” Russell said.
“If we do it right, there’s no reason why we can’t be ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin – that’s the goal.
“I think we’ve seen in those first four races now that it’s really tight between those three teams, so if only it was for the win and pole position, that would be exciting. But that’s good because it shows if we can do it right, we can be rewarded and get ahead of it.
“I think we have to make improvements overnight. We know we have the potential because we’ve seen it in FP1 and we’ve seen it at the start of FP2, but for sure we just have to line up things.”
Max: I’ve always felt good | Perez: I didn’t drive well
Friday saw contrasting fortunes for the two Red Bull drivers and title rivals.
Verstappen, who leads Sergio Perez by six points in the championship heading into the weekend, had dominated Practice 1 until the closing laps of both Mercedes and Charles Leclerc usurped him, but he still finished more than a second ahead of his teammate.
The Dutchman was then nearly half a second ahead of Perez in the afternoon session as he stamped his authority this weekend.
“I think it was a good day. At the start I think he was getting used to the track a bit with the new tarmac, I think it intensified a lot throughout the day,” he said. said Verstappen.
“I always felt good in the car and we had a good balance.
“The most important thing today, I think we had a good balance in the car to start with, so I felt happy. There are still a few things we want to look at.
Perez admitted he needed to improve over the rest of the weekend.
“I didn’t have the best of Fridays but my lap was also pretty bad where I got stuck on the last corner,” Perez said.
“I think there’s a lot to do with my riding. I don’t think I rode well today, so if I can improve my riding and get a bit more comfortable, I’ll be fine. .”
Leclerc on P2 crash: I pushed too hard
Leclerc finished third in both Friday practice sessions but his afternoon run was cut by 10 minutes at the start of second when he crashed into the barriers after losing control at the turn seven, bringing out the red flag.
Ferrari uses an upgraded floor and diffuser in Miami, but the rear of the car emerged unscathed from the crash.
Leclerc said the accident was caused by pushing too hard and sounded a defeatist tone about the chances of shaking up Red Bull on Sunday.
“I pushed a bit too much, lost the rear, tried to recover, but had no grip to recover the car. There was no damage to the rear of the car. car, which is the most important, and tomorrow is another day,” said Leclerc.
“Other than that I think the feeling is pretty good on one lap, but on the race we’re so far behind. Red Bull are in a league of their own again, but very far ahead, so in the race we have a lot of time to find. In qualifying, we are more or less there.
Sky Sports F1 Miami GP live schedule
5:15 p.m.: Miami GP Practice Three (session starts at 5:30 p.m.)
8 p.m.: preparation for qualifying for the Miami GP
9 p.m.: Qualifying for the Miami GP
10:45 p.m.: Ted’s qualification notebook
7:00 p.m.: preparation for the Miami GP on Sunday for the Grand Prix
8:30 p.m.: THE MIAMI GRAND PRIX
10:30 p.m .: Checkered Flag Miami GP reaction
11:30 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
The Formula 1 season continues with the Miami GP this weekend. Watch qualifying at 9 p.m. Saturday with the lights off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Get Sky Sports