Hamilton ‘desperate’ for changes after ‘kick in the gut’ at Miami GP

Lewis Hamilton previews 2023 Miami Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has sparked concern over Mercedes’ lack of pace in the second practice session in Miami, describing their slide down the timings as a “kick in the gut” as he reiterated his desire for changes to be made. The Briton was second fastest behind team-mate George Russell as Mercedes surprised many by topping the timing charts in FP1, only for the reality of their season so far to sink in later on Friday.

As often seen in practice, Red Bull had concealed their true pace and went much faster in FP2 as the Silver Arrows tumbled down the order. Having been first and second in the first free practice, Mercedes stars Hamilton and Russell dropped to seventh and 15th respectively on another miserable afternoon for the German manufacturer.

Hamilton did set his fastest lap time of a 1:28.858 on the medium tyre, which is regarded as being at least half a second a lap slower than a brand-new pair of red-striped soft tyres.

However, it still left him nearly a whole second down on Max Verstappen’s quickest time, while Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were not far behind the Dutchman.

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And the seven-time world champion could not hide his displeasure at their struggles to match their rivals for pace around the street circuit.

“The same as every weekend, that we’re a second down,” he said. “It’s a great weekend, it’s a great place to be. There’s lots of positives. It’s just we’re not particularly quick and it’s a struggle out there.

“We’re trying lots of different things. P1 looked quite good and then in P2, the true pace came out and it’s just a kick in the gut. It’s a little bit tough to take sometimes but it’s okay, we’ll just keep on working on it.

“We’ll regroup tonight and see if we can make some setup changes and get the car in a sweeter spot.”

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The 38-year-old has endured the most difficult period of his career since the new regulations came into force in 2022 and he is still yet to record a race victory since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December 2021 – a run that stretches back 28 races.

Hamilton has been vocal in his criticism of the team’s decision to ignore his feedback in designing the W14 car after their horrendous experience with the W13, which is regarded as Mercedes’ worst car since their return to the sport in 2010.

But with a planned upgrade to be rolled out at Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the Briton believes there is light at the end of the tunnel as he explained the “desperate” need for changes.

“There isn’t just one thing,” he added. “I’m trying to stay positive with it. We’re working as hard as we can it’s just we desperately need those upgrades, that’s for sure.

“Just got to keep our head down for one more race and hopefully we’ll start a new path at the next race.”

Hamilton goes into the race weekend already 45 points adrift of championship leader Verstappen and, with his slim hopes of winning a record eighth title slowly slipping away, he will be desperate for Mercedes to show their strength on the track later this season.

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