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Belgian GP Practice team notes - Mercedes

NEWS STORY
24/08/2018

Lewis finished the first practice session after the summer break in P3 with Valtteri in P5. In the afternoon session, Lewis finished in P2 with Valtteri in P3. Today's programme focused on some checks on the new engine, gaining insight into the tyres and finding the right set-up and wing levels.

Lewis Hamilton: It's good to be back. The break is never really long enough, but there is a point when you start to miss driving, so I'm happy to be back in the car again. These are the fastest F1 cars we've ever had, and you really feel it at this track. You go almost flat through Pouhon - it's crazy. We've brought a new engine today and everything was running smoothly. It's really close between us and Ferrari; it seems like we've both been bringing new updates at a similar rate. For the middle sector, you want to have a good amount of downforce, but you want less in the other sectors to gain speed down the straights. The challenge is to find the right balance and thankfully I have a great team working on that. Coming into the weekend I heard that it was going to be raining all weekend. There were some spits of rain on certain parts of the track in FP1, but in FP2 it was nice and dry. I hope it stays that way as this track is just awesome to drive in the dry.

Valtteri Bottas: In general, the car felt pretty good today. The balance was slightly off in the beginning of the day, but we managed to correct that so that the car felt nice pretty much everywhere on the track. The lower speed sections were a little more challenging for us, as we struggled a bit with traction coming out of the corners. Ferrari looked a little bit quicker in some corner combinations like Turn 5 to Turn 7, but I don't think we're far off. However, it's always difficult to make any detailed predictions on Friday for the weekend as it is usually really close in Qualifying. In terms of set-up it is usually a compromise between Qualifying and the race; but given my grid penalty this weekend, the focus for me will obviously be the race. Fortunately, the long-run pace felt good and I am confident that it is possible to come up through the field here in Spa. The new engine also felt good today, so I'm looking forward to the race - it should be fun.

James Allison: It was a curate's egg of a day. The good part of it was that we ran through the programme we planned without any mechanical dramas to the car and we picked up the information we need to have from the tyres. The other good parts of it were that both drivers at various points of both session looked quick and that the new engines ran reliably and showed a promising performance. The area where we need to do more work is that the long runs were poor and scrappy affairs with both drivers. A mixture of traffic and flat-spotting meant that we didn't establish the rhythm that gives you a warm feeling going into Sunday. So it was not a bad day, but it could have been better and we will do our traditional job of tucking-in overnight to see what we can improve to make sure that the cars have got a good combination of single lap pace and long-run speed.

Check out our Friday gallery from Spa, here.

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