Lewis Hamilton’s worrying comment about Mercedes’ 2022 car

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both struggled for comfort and performance during practice ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday.

Mercedes were an average of over nine-tenths of a second off the pace of Ferrari during the opening two sessions of the weekend and managed the highest position of P5 through Russell in FP1.

The Silver Arrows’ race pace has generally been stronger this season than their qualifying pace, but it was in the first session that they appeared to have a smaller deficit when drivers were undertaking their short runs, so this was a concerning trend for the eight-time champions.

Hamilton went seventh fastest in FP1 and was at one stage nearly two seconds off the pace in FP2 before improving by eight tenths to go 11th, with Russell ahead in eighth.

McLaren was especially strong as Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo took P2 and P5 respectively in the second hour, while both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel made it into the top seven on Friday.

Hamilton was left asking if his deficit to leader Charles Leclerc was on the “same tire” in FP2, and he complained of poor balance as he ran wide at Turn Four.

Russell had a series of issues at Turn One as he continually locked up, and he took to the radio to ask “what the hell is going on at Turn One?” indicative of a frustrating day for the eight-time champions.

Mercedes’ lack of pace is not necessarily a massive shock. The short straights, quick corners, and bumpier track surface were not expected to work in their favor this weekend, but they had anticipated a stronger performance in France before they lacked significant pace there.

They went on to take their first double podium of the season due to their superior reliability and consistency as Sergio Perez struggled for pace, while Leclerc crashed out.

Sainz had been forced to start from the back because of engine penalties, and the Spaniard recovered to fifth.

Russell had a much stronger day on Saturday, as he took pole position, while Hamilton qualified in P7.

However, the seven-time world champion finished the grand prix ahead of his team-mate, with the pair scoring Mercedes’ second double podium finish of the 2022 season.

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