Lewis Hamilton in shock at 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton struggled for grip throughout the opening day in Saudi Arabia, the venue where he was eliminated in Q1 last season.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was seemingly in disbelief following the conclusion of the opening day at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with him having found himself over a second behind Red Bull once again.

The start of the weekend in Saudi Arabia had started positively for Mercedes, with the Germans having looked fairly good during Free Practice 1.

Hamilton ended the opening session at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit narrowly behind George Russell in sixth, but over 1.1 seconds behind Max Verstappen who led the way.

Given that the race takes place at night and FP1 is carried out during the day, the opening session in Jeddah is somewhat unrepresentative of what to actually expect, given how different the track conditions are.

READ: ‘A demon comes out’: Sky F1 pundit on unpopular Esteban Ocon

Free Practice 2 was the first indicator of where each team is actually placed, with the second session of the weekend having taken place at the same time of day as qualifying and the race.

Worryingly, Hamilton was again a second behind Verstappen who topped yet another session, with the 38-year-old having settled for P11.

Saudi Arabia wasn’t a good venue for Hamilton last season and is looking to be equally challenging this weekend, with the Brit having been eliminated in Q1 12 months ago.

Hamilton certainly wasn’t happy in FP2, especially after he completed a quali run.

Article continues below

The 103-time race winner was in disbelief after asking race director Peter Bonnington how far behind he was, with Bono’s answer having certainly not been what Hamilton was hoping for.

“How far are we off?” Hamilton asked Bono.

“A second to Verstappen still. We’re P8,” Bono informed the frustrated driver.

“We’re P8?!” Hamilton replied in shock.

Following FP2, Hamilton admitted that he “struggled” on the opening day and that the car is “tough” to drive, suggesting that a challenging weekend is on the horizon for the Stevenage-born driver.

READ: George Russell claims Mercedes ‘overshot’ after porpoising woes

“I struggled in both sessions today, but we completed the run programme we had and tried to learn as much as possible,” Hamilton said after FP2, as reported by Formula1.com.

“We will continue to go into the details overnight and focus on improving the balance of the car to make it easier to drive.

“It’s a tough car to drive but I know everyone is working so hard at the factory. It won’t be solved overnight and will take some time, so we just have to be patient and give it everything we can here at the track.”