Lewis Hamilton was rather downbeat after practice at the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with his Mercedes car difficult to drive.
The seven-time world champion ended Friday’s running on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in 11th place and comfortably slower than his Mercedes teammate, George Russell. The 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix winner was running some experimental parts, but Hamilton wasn’t fully aware of their impact having not yet debriefed with his team.
The W14 is an evolution of 2022’s W13 which progressively got better as the year went on but remains an outlier compared to the Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin machines in terms of side pod design.
“We just have to continue going into the details trying to improve the balance of the car to make it easier to drive,” Hamilton told reporters after FP2.
“It’s a tough car to drive, but I know everyone is working hard back in the factory so it’s just a matter of time and having to be patient.”
Hamilton could not hide his deflated attitude at the end of the day which saw him announce the departure of long-term trainer Angela Cullen after seven years together.
The British icon had a number of difficulties throughout both sessions and struggled to get anywhere near the top echelon of times all day with lock-ups and traffic causing issues for him and a number of others.
“I definitely struggled in the session,” Hamilton told the media. “I struggled in both sessions.”
Last season, Hamilton was shockingly knocked out of qualifying early in Saudi Arabia and only just managed to fight his way to 10th, seeing him earn one solitary point although he had to ask if he got anything being that far down the order.
Russell, meanwhile, ran in the top five a year ago, and looked much more comfortable than his teammates once again.