The more upbeat Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton – compared to this time last week at Spa anyway – were left pleased with their performance on the first day of running at Zandvoort, believing the W13 is in a much sweeter spot to compete this weekend.
Russell led the way in the first practice session, just ahead of Hamilton, before finishing fifth in FP2. And the Briton believes that the Silver Arrows are “in a relatively good spot” as he set his sights on improving their qualifying form in the hopes of giving them a better platform to compete in the race.
“Better than Spa!” was Russell’s verdict on Friday. “I think that’s for sure, comparing with this time last week – but the car’s working better, there’s no doubt about it. It’s going to be close tomorrow, I think McLaren are looking quick, even Aston Martin, and we still know qualifying is our weak point.
“I think the race will come towards us and I think our long run pace is looking strong. But you’ve got to be starting in the right position, you know – if we’re starting on row three, it’s going to be difficult to battle for first or second.”
He continued: “But it’s a little bit tricky out there because the timing screen wasn’t working so we didn’t have – I don’t know if that’s the same for television or not… We couldn’t really actually see where our long run pace is really at, so I’m sure everyone is going to dive into it tonight and try to gather as much data as possible, but I feel we’re in a relatively good spot.”
Team mate Lewis Hamilton followed up his FP1 efforts with the third quickest time in FP2, finishing 0.079s behind pace setter Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. And the seven-time world champion believes Mercedes have found a “sweeter spot” with the W13, as he targeted finding more performance heading into the weekend.
“This is a lot better than my Sunday [in Spa] and it’s a lot better than Friday even last week,” Hamilton admitted. “So yeah, it’s been a decent start to the weekend, we’ve landed in a much sweeter spot with the car, being that it’s a much different track and yeah, it’s a work in progress.
“We are not that far behind which is great to see, and the car doesn’t feel that bad. We just have to keep chipping away and the car doesn’t feel that bad performance-wise – there’s probably not a huge amount more performance-wise, but we keep pushing.”