Dutch GP: Qualifying team notes - Mercedes


FP3 was a wet session and saw both drivers running a single intermediate tyre set. After initially struggling to generate tyre temperature, they finished the hour in the top five.

Qualifying was a challenging, drying session interrupted by red flags and the drivers experienced contrasting fortunes.

George was able to claim a second row starting position in P3, with his final time coming on soft tyres like all other Q3 runners.

Lewis was eliminated in Q2 after struggling for confidence and grip with the car - and traffic on his timed laps throughout the session, in which he only ran the intermediate compound.

George Russell: That was a great session and I'm happy to be in P3. Qualifying was a strength earlier in the season, but it's been going a bit wrong for me recently, so it was good to get the break, come with some fresh ideas and put ourselves in a good place to fight for the podium tomorrow. The final lap was pretty okay - we know that we struggle to get temperature into the tyres when it's wet or the crossover to slicks, but that also turns into a strength on Sunday. I'm Max will enjoy his usual Sunday drive tomorrow, but from P3 hopefully we can have a good fight with Lando, Alex and the rest.

Lewis Hamilton: It wasn't my day today. Since FP1, I've lost some confidence in the car and that made qualifying tricky. It was tough to get the tyres into the working window, I struggled with the balance and overall grip, and George also did a few different settings that seemed to work better. But we know that the car operates in a narrow window, and these things can happen when you are in that situation. On the final run, I did two consecutive laps and the tyres overheated on the second one, so I couldn't improve the time. Tomorrow is a new challenge; hopefully the car will be a bit better on full tanks, and we can make some forward progress. This isn't an easy circuit for doing that - but that will be the goal.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO: It was a challenging session, as we know our car is not the strongest when it comes to warming up the tyres in the wet and on the drying track. That means we need to put all the details together and that was hard today. George got the maximum from it to take a second row, so I hope he will be racing for the podium tomorrow. For Lewis, it seemed like he was impeded on every timed lap - including his quickest one - but he also didn't have full confidence in the car today. We will analyse why - but we know as well that we can race stronger than the cars around him, so I hope to see him move forward tomorrow. So, a day of mixed fortunes; but we can take positives from P3 and build from there.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director: We're pleased with the P3 start position for George and naturally disappointed we couldn't get Lewis further up. We were struggling for temperature on intermediate tyres in the morning session, George managed to get on top of this, but Lewis was not particularly happy with his balance and finding it hard to build heat in the tyres. Those trends continued into qualifying although Lewis was particularly unfortunate with the number of cars blocking him on fast laps; ultimately it was the lack of a clear lap that prevented him making the final session. We're expecting conditions to improve for tomorrow; our long run pace looked reasonable on Friday so hopefully we can move forward with both drivers.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Zandvoort here.

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Published: 26/08/2023
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