Mercedes’ Suzuka Struggle: Hamilton’s Setback and Team’s Quest for Improvement

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Leclerc F1 clash damage derailed Japanese GP hopes, says Hamilton

The Suzuka race saw Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton facing setbacks from the start due to a minor clash with Charles Leclerc, resulting in car damage and excessive understeer. This forced Hamilton to let his teammate George Russell pass him, as he struggled to maneuver the car effectively. Despite hopes pinned on a new setup direction for the W15, Hamilton expressed disappointment with the car’s performance during the race, citing significant understeer as a major issue.

Hamilton acknowledged the damage sustained in the clash with Leclerc, which led to handling difficulties throughout the race. Despite attempts to adjust the car’s setup to compensate for the understeer, it took several stints to find a solution, by which time Hamilton had fallen too far behind to recover sufficiently. The overall feeling was one of frustration for Hamilton, who struggled to find positives from the weekend’s performance.

Mercedes' Suzuka Struggle: Hamilton's Setback and Team's Quest for Improvement
Mercedes’ Suzuka Struggle: Hamilton’s Setback and Team’s Quest for Improvement (Credits: Motorsport)

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, attributed the team’s struggles to a poor qualifying session, which left both drivers starting from unfavorable positions on the grid. The decision to switch to hard tires during the red-flag period aimed to offset the disadvantage but led to further challenges with low grip. Although the team saw some improvement in the later stages of the race, it was too late to make a significant impact on the standings.

Shovlin emphasized the need for continued hard work to address the team’s current lack of pace. Despite the disappointing result in Japan, he viewed the weekend as a valuable learning experience for Mercedes, providing insights into the car’s performance and areas for development. The focus remains on improving the competitiveness of the W15 for future races.

The Suzuka race proved challenging for Mercedes, with Hamilton’s early setback and subsequent struggles highlighting areas for improvement in car performance and race strategy. Despite efforts to overcome these obstacles, the team was unable to achieve the desired results, prompting a renewed commitment to development and refinement as they strive to enhance their competitiveness in upcoming races.

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