Lewis Hamilton savours ‘best session of the year’ at Japanese GP as Mercedes star changes his tune

Mercedes had the second fastest time in FP2 and split the Ferrari cars in FP1 at the 2024 Japanese GP


Lewis Hamilton could not hide his delight with his Mercedes car after enjoying the “best session” of the season so far in FP1 on Friday at the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

The 39-year-old has been notorious for calling out the team’s issues and car troubles in recent months, with their initial optimism about the W15 appearing to be misleading based on their pace in the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian grands prix.

But Hamilton appeared to be rejuvenated after finishing fifth in the first free practice session in Suzuka, with the Silver Arrows much closer to the leading Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. He also followed that up with the second-fastest time in FP2, although the rain meant it was not indicative of their pace.

He even went as far as describing it as their best performance in a session this season, although the bar was set pretty low considering how slow the Silver Arrows have been in practice and qualifying in 2024.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during practice ahead of the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (upper right) during practice ahead of the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“It was a great session, the best session we’ve had this year and the best the car has felt this year so far,” Hamilton said after FP1 to the press in Japan.

“It felt really positive. Exciting. It’s a circuit that every driver loves to drive. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and balance to drive here.

“Given the difficult last few races we’ve had, great work has been done in this past week and we have seemed to hit the ground in a bit more of a sweeter spot. I haven’t made any changes [to the car setup] since.”

Hamilton laments FP2 rain

While the sun shone in FP1, the unpredictable weather took a turn for the worse in time for FP2 as the rain fell, causing teams to err on the side of caution and stay in the garages for the first 30 minutes of the session.

Hamilton was one of the few drivers to get to grips with the slippery track conditions on the intermediate tyre, before setting a hot lap on the soft compound to put him second behind McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. However, only seven drivers posted a time and the likes of Verstappen, Perez and Fernando Alonso did not come out of the garage.

With that in mind, Hamilton is unsure where exactly Mercedes will be when qualifying comes around on Saturday, but the seven-time world champion is not expecting any major surprises from his team.

“It’s hard to know [where they will be]. I think we have a better baseline to start from so as long as we don’t make too many changes and mess it up! I think we’ll probably stay where we are,” Hamilton added.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get that session [FP2]. They have changed the tyre rules so no one runs on the intermediate, which doesn’t make sense really.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
- Advertisment -


Conor Daly during Indy 500 Qualifying | Penske Entertainment: Karl Zemlin

Team Penske dominate Indy 500 Qualifying with VeeKay serving up a dramatic finish

Team Penske continued its march toward the IndyCar 2024 Indy 500 on Saturday during the first day of Qualifying,...
Nico Hulkenberg at the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | Haas F1 Team / LAT Images

Hulkenberg admits helping Max Verstappen secure Imola pole position

Nico Hulkenberg has confessed to intentionally providing Max Verstappen with a slipstream during the final laps of Qualifying, assisting...
Sergio Perez during qualifying for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez dispels Red Bull myth despite Imola struggles compared to Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez rebuffed suggestions that his Q2 exit at Imola while Max Verstappen took 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix...
Oscar Piastri during practice for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren

McLaren star Oscar Piastri hit with grid penalty for Emilia Romagna GP

McLaren driver Oscar Piastri has been handed a three-place grid drop by the FIA stewards for the Formula 1...
Carlos Sainz during practice for 2024 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

“…So I gave him the finger” – Verstappen, Norris and Piastri recount bizarre shared...

Max Verstappen revealed he'd flipped off an Imola fan in qualifying for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with...

George Russell blames ‘sandwich’ for costing Mercedes in Emilia Romagna GP qualifying

George Russell joked that having a large lunch at Imola cost him a chance to move further up the...
Lando Norris speaks to Max Verstappen ahead of the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP | Clive Rose / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Lando Norris hits out at ‘stupid’ Max Verstappen critics after Imola pole

Lando Norris has called out Max Verstappen's critics for being "a bit stupid" after the Red Bull driver continued...
Max Verstappen after securing pole position for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

How Verstappen and Red Bull reversed uncompetitive Imola form to take surprise pole

Max Verstappen revealed he would've been happy with fifth place in qualifying for the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix...
Carlos Sainz during practice for 2024 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

F1 Emilia Romagna GP 2024 Qualifying: Highlights and reaction

Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com F1 blog for Qualifying at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, coming to you from the paddock at...
Max Verstappen during final practice ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen defies Imola woes and McLaren to secure stunning Emilia Romagna GP pole

Max Verstappen defied Red Bull's struggles throughout their 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to take a scintillating Imola pole...
- Advertisment -