Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he has “a lack of confidence” in his Mercedes after Practice for 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton endured a difficult Friday Practice as he finished 16th then 14th in FP1 and FP2 respectively, although he found 0.911 seconds between both sessions in terms of his fastest lap times.
The seven-time champion consequently described Friday Practice as “very challenging” amidst confidence issues, as he explained: “I had a lack of confidence in the car and that contributed to our struggles.
“It was difficult to find the right balance and we didn’t manage to get on top of it by the end of FP2. The tyres were overheating and that left us quite far off the top of the timing sheets.”
Hamilton however iterated that he has “a lot of work to do tonight to pick up the performance…” ahead of Qualifying, but is cautiously optimistic that he “can made improvements” in FP3 having experienced similar Fridays this season only to rebound in Qualifying.
Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin supported Hamilton’s view after two “tricky” Practice sessions, as he added that they had “certainly been on the back foot today.”
Shovlin proceeded to explain that “overall lack of grip and the balance of the car” were main issues in FP1, which prompted tweaks ahead of FP2, which provided “useful learnings” to take into FP3 and Qualifying.
Specifying exactly where Mercedes will seek to improve their performance, Shovlin said: “We are clearly not strong enough in the faster corners, with the first sector proving a particular weakness for us. That’s where the majority of our work will be focused this evening.”
Looking ahead to the Grand Prix, Shovlin warned that the team “are facing the same challenges on both our qualifying pace and the long run.”