Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell express frustrations as Mercedes struggles continue


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Lewis Hamilton says it’s ‘frustrating’ that none of the changes the team are making are having the desired effect.

Lewis Hamilton says it’s ‘frustrating’ that none of the changes the team are making are having the desired effect.

Lewis Hamilton expressed his frustration as Mercedes’ early-season woes continued in the first two practice sessions for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion ended over 1.2 seconds down on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at the end of P1 after setting the seventh-fastest time and then ended P2 in 13th, over 1.5 seconds down on Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton made no secret of the fact it had been a tough day for him and revealed it was proving difficult for the team to find a solution to the issues the reigning Constructors’ Champions have faced so far in 2022.

“It was a difficult session,” Hamilton said. “Nothing you change on the car makes a difference at the moment, that’s the difficult thing.

‘You get in very optimistic, and you make changes, and then it doesn’t seem to be wanting to improve. We made some changes going into P2; P1 was better and P2 ended up being a bit harder for me. I don’ t know, it’s just a tricky car.

“I don’t think it will be tricky to find our way back, it’s just there’s not a lot we can do. This is the way it is, so we just have to drive with it.

“That’s the frustrating thing because you’re trying to push, you’re trying to catch and even when you do a decent lap, it’s 1.2 seconds down, so it’s difficult.”

Lance Stroll expresses his frustration with Lewis Hamilton over team radio in first practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

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Lance Stroll expresses his frustration with Lewis Hamilton over team radio in first practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll expresses his frustration with Lewis Hamilton over team radio in first practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell echoed those views after a day which saw him fail to crack the top 10 fastest times in either session.

Russell revealed how various different set-up changes have failed to solve the issues he has faced, including further problems with porpoising at certain points around the Albert Park track.

“We’re not in a position where we want to be, there are quite a few mid-field cars ahead of us and we’re quite off the pace from the front,” Russell said.

Mercedes' George Russell admits the team are struggling to get on top of their problems in Melbourne.

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Mercedes’ George Russell admits the team are struggling to get on top of their problems in Melbourne.

Mercedes’ George Russell admits the team are struggling to get on top of their problems in Melbourne.

“We’re definitely porpoising pretty bad into Turn 9. It’s probably the most severe I’ve experienced, but it’s just something we have to deal with for the time being. We believe that’s the fastest way around the track, but maybe it’s not .

“We need to keep digging into the data and understand how we’ve gone from left, right and center with the set-up and all resulted in a similar outcome. We need to try to get on top of things and understand why.”

Could Hamilton defy ban on jewelery?

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, has joked that he is ready to defy an ban on jewelery.

F1’s new race director Niels Wittich has prioritized the clampdown ahead of Sunday’s race.

While the ban on jewelery has been in place since 2004, Wittich – the German who replaced Michael Masi – brought the rule to the fore in his pre-race notes before addressing the subject directly with Hamilton and his peers in Friday night’s drivers’ briefing.

Wittich says the law is there to protect the driver by not hindering a speedy escape from their car.

Lewis Hamilton says the team has made minimal changes to the car and is not expecting to see dramatic improvements in Melbourne.

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Lewis Hamilton says the team has made minimal changes to the car and is not expecting to see dramatic improvements in Melbourne.

Lewis Hamilton says the team has made minimal changes to the car and is not expecting to see dramatic improvements in Melbourne.

But Hamilton, who has jewelery in his nose and ear, said: “I have got certain piercings that I can’t just take out and that not many people know of. I’m kidding.

“Since I’ve been here in F1, it’s been the rule, so there’s nothing new. I’m just going to come up with more jewelery next week.”

The FIA ​​clause states that “the wearing of jewelery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start.”

Hamilton could theoretically be fined or docked points if he breaks the sporting code.

Verstappen: We can get closer to Ferrari

Sky F1's Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen's fastest laps from Friday practice in Melbourne.

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s fastest laps from Friday practice in Melbourne.

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok compares Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s fastest laps from Friday practice in Melbourne.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen believes Red Bull have shown enough to be confident they can again challenge Ferrari in Australia after he finished fourth and second-fastest in P1 and P2 respectively.

Verstappen and Leclerc have been involved in some thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles in the opening races of the year in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with the Dutchman emerging victorious last time out after retiring in the opening Grand Prix of 2022.

The 24-year-old was satisfied with his car’s performance in P1 and P2, but added he felt there was still more to come over the course of the weekend.

Max Verstappen says he enjoyed both practice sessions and felt comfortable in the car.

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Max Verstappen says he enjoyed both practice sessions and felt comfortable in the car.

Max Verstappen says he enjoyed both practice sessions and felt comfortable in the car.

“We’re a tiny bit off Ferrari, but I don’t think we can make it a little closer,” Verstappen said. “They’re quick again, but on the long run everything was quite stable and nice so I’m happy about that, so we definitely made some good improvements today.

“You never know tomorrow, but they seem very strong. So, we’ve got a little bit of work to do, but we’re more or less there.”

‘Great to see Mercedes being challenged’ | ‘The problem is it is reality’

Martin Brundle was trackside to cast his eye over turn one during the second pratice at the Australian Grand Prix.

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Martin Brundle was trackside to cast his eye over turn one during the second pratice at the Australian Grand Prix.

Martin Brundle was trackside to cast his eye over turn one during the second pratice at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sky F1 expert Johnny Herbert:

“It is great for us to see that Mercedes are being challenged, it is unfortunate for Lewis (Hamilton) and especially George (Russell) coming into the team when he thought everything was going to be more at the sharp end.

“But they have got some very good people there that I am sure will be able to get them to the front end.

“It’s just how long it takes and is it going to be too late if they’re fighting for a Championship? Probably yes.”

Sky F1 expert Paul di Resta:

“The problem is it is a reality. If you look on board with the Ferraris, you can see the porpoising and it looks worse than the Mercedes – but they are still very quick.

“The unfortunate thing for Mercedes is the other midfield teams are doing a bit better, so it puts them in a worse position and out of touching distance and they don’t have that comfortable margin to capitalize when they get a car, which they are going to get at some point this year when they unleash it, to race the Ferraris and Red Bulls.

“But they are only going to be fighting for race wins, they aren’t going to be fighting for Championships if it continues like this.”

The action continues on Saturday morning, with final practice live on Sky Sports F1 at 4am before qualifying at 7am. The race is live from 6am on Sunday morning with coverage starting on Sky Sports F1 from 4.30am.

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