Lewis Hamilton on a knife edge with ‘peaky’ Mercedes car 

Lewis Hamilton qualified seventh for the 2023 Japanese GP, just ahead of Mercedes teammate George Russell

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Lewis Hamilton has bemoaned the rear downforce of his Mercedes car and the difficulties the team have in getting it into the perfect operating window, especially at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

Qualifying saw Hamilton a massive 1.031s behind pole-sitter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, which comes as a stark contrast to his performance in Singapore a week ago, where Mercedes were one of the fastest cars across the weekend. 

“Yesterday it started off looking like it was not going to be so great,” Hamilton told the press about Qualifying for the 2023 Japanese GP.

“I think the setup went in the right direction. And then from FP3 to Qualifying I made another setup change, I was really happy with that. 

“It’s just really hard to pull anymore out. I’m already on the knife edge with the rear end, the whole way through the lap, all the way through. 

“We did some great work overnight, and the car was feeling much nicer to drive today. It’s as good a balance as we could possibly get. It’s just massively down on read downforce. So we can’t carry anywhere near the speed these guys are carrying through that first sector.

“We as a team really need to, when go back and do the debrief now, realize that a second gap is huge. And it’s real. 

“To be two years in and still be a second down compared to the Red Bulls, it’s showing, and we need to make sure that we really do the job in the winter to get back at least half a gap before this year.”

Further elaborating on the unpredictability of his car, Hamilton admitted that it’s impossible to know exactly how the Mercedes will behave from weekend to weekend. 

“We have a very peaky car,” Hamilton said. “When we talk about knife edge, it’s literally like trying to balance a knife on this tip. And this is that car, it’s impossible. 

“So it’s never perfectly balanced, it’s one way or the other. You either oversteer or massive understeer, you can never get it all good, when you try and get it as close as you can to the middle. But it’s very, very hard to do each weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton expecting Japanese battle with Ferrari

Looking to the race on Sunday, Hamilton is expecting to be fighting with Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who have qualified fourth and sixth, respectively, for the race in Japan. 

“They had an upgrade this weekend, so they definitely are a little bit ahead of us,” Hamilton added. 

“And it’s not an easy track to overtake, we’re still going to give it everything in the hope I can give him a run for their money tomorrow.”

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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