Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he is “generally happy” after enjoying a dominant Friday Practice ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Despite spending much of both sessions trailing title rival – Max Verstappen, Hamilton pulled out quick laps to top FP1 and FP2 respectively, although his best FP2 time was set on mediums after traffic and an error ruined his qualifying simulation on soft tyres.
Hamilton though is delighted with a “rapid” circuit layout in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which he described as “unbelievably quick and with a lot of grip as well.”
Reflecting on his performance across both sessions as he adapted to another new circuit, Hamilton said: “Once you get in the rhythm, it’s beautiful to drive. The grip was very high from the moment we went out and was similar in both sessions.
“We tried a couple of things with our setup, and although we aren’t rapid on single run pace compared to the others, our long run pace seemed pretty good.”
Hamilton though is wary of the reality that traffic will pose “a problem” this weekend and warned that “the closing distances to other cars was definitely getting dangerous.”
Concern was also expressed about the tyre selection and particularly the soft tyre after Pirelli brought the C2, C3 & C4 tyres to Jeddah, as he explained: “The Medium and Hard tyre both performed well, the Soft is probably a little too soft for the high-speed sections, it feels like the tyre is giving up slightly.”
“I’m generally happy with the setup, we changed a few things in between sessions, and we’ll work with the guys in the factory back home to make sure we have the correct setup for tomorrow.” said Hamilton as he looked ahead to FP3 and Qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas meanwhile finished second fastest in FP2 in which he praised the track as “cool” in terms of its high speeds and closeness to the walls, leaving the outgoing Mercedes driver feeling “an adrenaline rush.”
Bottas though was specifically impressed by the grip levels despite feeling “a little bit dusty” in FP1 as he felt the track surface was “very grippy” with no bumps.
The Finnish driver added that he was relieved with the grip levels as he explained: “It was good to get confirmation of the grip level here, you base your starting setup on the simulations and estimated grip level, and we started in a good place.”
“The biggest surprise today was the tyres – they lasted well and I’m not sure we’ll see many stops on Sunday. All the compounds seemed to work well here, even though you could feel the Softs giving up slightly in the high-speed corners.”