Why Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are being cautious

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell led FP2 in Canada but the Mercedes drivers have identified areas for improvement going forward.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have expressed the need for further improvements from Mercedes ahead of the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix weekend, despite setting the fastest times in Friday’s second practice session.

Hamilton, a seven-time winner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, secured the quickest lap of the day with a time of 1m 13.718s during his qualifying run in the extended FP2 session. 

Reflecting on his performance, Hamilton acknowledged that while the car didn’t feel bad, certain aspects required attention, particularly in dealing with the track’s bumpy nature.

“It’s not the greatest, but not the worst by far,” Hamilton said. 

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“So, as I said, it’s feeling pretty decent, it’s just bumpy and I think everyone’s having struggles with the bumps. 

“We need to improve our ride control and balance through the corners, and then I think we’ll be alright.”

Hamilton expressed his love for the circuit and the improvements brought by Mercedes’ major upgrade package introduced in Monaco two races ago. 

Comparing it to the previous year, he noted significant progress and felt the car’s overall performance had taken a step forward.

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Meanwhile, George Russell finished just 0.027s behind Hamilton’s fastest time, but he remained cautious about drawing conclusions from the timesheets. 

While satisfied with the team’s effort, he didn’t expect to maintain such a high position during Saturday’s qualifying session.

“It was a reasonably productive session,” Russell stated. 

“I don’t think we can read much into the timings. Obviously, we did our low fuel qualifying prep towards the end of the session when the track was quicker. 

“Barcelona and here are two totally different circuits, with Barcelona being a super smooth high-speed circuit and here being incredibly bumpy.”

Russell acknowledged the positive impact of the upgrades introduced in Barcelona, addressing limitations they would have faced with the previous specification of the car. 

However, he recognized the need to determine their true position on the grid. 

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He mentioned that qualifying pace compared to Ferrari and Aston Martin might still be a challenge, but remained confident in Mercedes’ ability to perform strongly on race day.

“We always know it comes to us on Sunday, so that’s when it’s going to matter,” Russell emphasized. 

With rain expected for Saturday’s sessions, he looked forward to seeing how the weather would impact the race weekend.