Lewis Hamilton says he can feel the recent improvements made by Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix after leading teammate George Russell in FP2.
The first practice session was cancelled due to an issue with the CCTV infrastructure that meant race control didn’t have the required track visibility, but was rectified in time for an extended second session. Hamilton was fastest by just 0.027s from Russell as Mercedes secured a one-two before rain hit, and says the car’s recent developments are carrying through to Montreal.
“I can only base it off compared to last year and it’s massively better than last year,” Hamilton said. “The rear end is not necessarily, but overall the car is just a step forwards and I’m definitely feeling the improvements that we felt in Monaco and (in Spain) here.
“It’s probably the bumpiest circuit that we’ve been on in a long time. A bit of a strange day because obviously we got to miss the first session. I felt really bad for all the fans that are out there — we’ve had a great crowd already from yesterday, the city is pumping… I don’t know what happened, CCTV cameras or something like that, but I’m glad we got to go out.
“It was nice to have an hour and a half session, but we haven’t had an hour and a half for a long time so then I felt like the time was not used optimally. We’ll get back and have a look at how we can (do better), but I was just itching to go. I was like ‘Get me out, let’s maximize the time out there’.
“But I love driving this track; it’s mega. I loved it, from the moment you leave the pit line it’s like, ‘Yeah this is wicked.’ The car didn’t feel bad but I think we’ve definitely got some work to do.”
Hamilton wasn’t reading too much into his session-leading time on soft tires based on how the Mercedes was handling, however.
“It was not the greatest but not the worst by far! As I said, it’s feeling pretty decent, it’s just bumpy. I think everyone has had struggles with the bumps, so I think we’ve just got to improve our ride control and balance through the corner and I think we’ll be alright.”
Russell had similar comments to his teammate and also downplayed qualifying expectations based on when Mercedes completed its fastest runs.
“It was a reasonably productive session, (but) I don’t think we can read too much into the timings,” Russell said. “We did our low fuel qualifying prep towards the end of the session when the track was quicker. It’s bumpy. It’s bloomin’ bumpy out there!
“I think between Barcelona and here, they’re two totally different circuits. Barcelona — super smooth, high-speed circuit. Here, it’s incredibly bumpy, but I do think the upgrades we brought to the car in Barcelona have helped the limitations that we probably would have had more of with the old specification of car.
“We need to find out where we’re going to be. I think we’re still on the tail-end, especially in qualifying pace, compared to Ferrari and Aston Martin. There might be even… Valtteri (Bottas) looked quick, maybe an Alpine. But we always know it comes to us on a Sunday. That’s when it’s going to matter. It looks to be wet tomorrow. Let’s see what it brings.”