Lewis Hamilton lauds ‘best day’ at Monaco GP but George Russell ‘like a gorilla’ in Mercedes

The two Mercedes drivers experienced different fortunes around the tricky Monaco circuit.

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Lewis Hamilton was delighted with the pace of his Mercedes car while his team-mate George Russell struggled during Friday’s second free practice session at the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton went second-fastest and only two tenths behind Charles Leclerc on the soft tyre in FP2 after the Ferrari driver blew away the rest of the field with a 1:11.278 – a tenth quicker than last year’s pole lap for qualifying.

It marked a strong performance from Mercedes to beat both Red Bulls and Ferrari, even if it is just practice, ahead of Saturday’s FP3 and qualifying sessions. And Hamilton, who has been forced to experiment with setups of late, could not hide his delight with the performance of the W15.

“It’s definitely been the best day we’ve had on track,” Hamilton told F1TV in Monaco.

“The car was feeling really positive, I’m really enjoying driving it. The track is amazing, and the grip was feeling quite good. I think we we still have some challenges with the balance, but it was looking strong.”

Lewis Hamilton was happier with his Mercedes team at the 2024 Monaco GP | Jiri Krenek / Mercedes F1 team

When asked if he felt confident enough to go right up to the barriers, Hamilton replied: “I do that in Monaco, so it wasn’t a surprise!

“But what was the surprise was the grip level and how the car was reacting here. It’s definitely a more enjoyable ride than we’ve had here than the last two years, particularly.

“I think the second session… I don’t know whether we improved or not. Definitely, in the long run, we still have a lot of work to do overnight to try and make sure that we can make it to the end of the race.”

Russell ‘like a gorilla’ after vibrations

Russell was running the new spec front wing as part of Mercedes’ upgrades introduced at the last race at Imola, and with only one available, Hamilton decided it wasn’t worth the risk attaching a new part on a track as dangerous for losing bodywork as Monaco.

And the 39-year-old’s choice seemed to be the right one as Russell struggled with vibrations on the steering wheel. After the session, the Briton revealed the extent to which he struggled to control the car inside the cockpit.

“As soon as I touched the brakes, the whole thing [steering wheel] was shaken to bits, so I don’t know what was going on,” Russell said. “I tried my best, like holding as hard as I could. Like a gorilla, trying to hold on to it.

“On a track like this, where you need confidence to attack everybody set us back, we just decided it was best to to call it a day during the long run and and try and analyse what was going on. But generally, the car’s been performing really well today.”

Mercedes were unable to fix the issue during qualifying and Andrew Shovlin, the team’s trackside engineering director, admitted they face a race against time to eliminate the problem.

“George was struggling with a vibration on braking – we need to get on top of that for tomorrow as it appeared to get worse during the course of the day and was very intrusive this afternoon,” Shovlin said.

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.
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