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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes car feels 'at its worst' at Hungarian GP as drivers criticise new tyre format

Lewis Hamilton was not happy with the handling of his Mercedes car at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday in Budapest; watch Hungarian GP live on Sky Sports F1, P3 is 11.30am Saturday; F1 Juniors will be live on Sky Showcase and Sky Sports Mix on Sunday

Lewis Hamilton drives the Mercedes W14 in Practice Two at the Hungarian GP
Image: Lewis Hamilton drives the Mercedes W14 in Practice Two at the Hungarian GP

Lewis Hamilton has admitted his car felt "at its worst" on Friday at the Hungarian Grand Prix as he finished 16th in the only representative practice session.

Hamilton was one of seven drivers not to set a lap time as rain curtailed Practice One but the limited tyre allocation led to most of the top teams running just one set of tyres in the second session.

George Russell was last in Practice Two, while Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle pointed out the Mercedes was "the worst car" in terms of handling through the slow penultimate corner, which is a 180 degree left hander, towards the end of the lap.

"It wasn't feeling good at all. It was feeling like the car at its worst today, but we'll work on the setup tonight," said Hamilton.

"Last year it felt terrible at the beginning and then we tuned it around with some setup changes. So we will work on that tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will feel better."

Russell added: "It didn't feel too bad in all honestly. We were obviously on a very different programme to everybody else. We only used one set of tyres throughout, it was a set of used tyres as well from FP1, so the lap times don't really give a true representation. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

"We are still just focused on trying to improve, we always know that we sort of tend to get better as the weekend progresses, which is the right way round for it to be. A few interesting things we learnt, even in that one session, so let's see what we can do tonight.

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David Croft and Anthony Davidson take us through the action from the first two practice sessions at the Hungaroring.

"We are struggling just with a bit of overall grip. I don't think the tyres are in the right window both at low fuel and high fuel. We just need to understand why that was, if we need to be taking a faster out-lap, slower out-lap for the qualifying stint, for the race run if we need to be pushing harder or managing more.

"These are things that are a little bit difficult sometimes when you're in the cockpit without having been able to look at the data.

"It wasn't our best day for sure, but it's not the first time I've said that on a Friday evening, and Saturday and Sunday are often better."

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Hamilton and other drivers criticise new format

F1 are trialling a new format this weekend in Budapest which sees the tyre allocation reduced from 13 sets for the weekend to 11.

The format, which will also be used at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, also regulates the drivers to use the hard tyres in Q1, the mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3.

But, this means the teams wanted to save new tyres for Qualifying and the race as they normally take seven sets of new tyres into Qualifying and the Grand Prix.

This leaves them with just four tyre sets for the three Practice sessions, so in two of the sessions, the top teams will run just one tyre set.

HUNGARORING, HUNGARY - JULY 20: Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG during the Hungarian GP at Hungaroring on Thursday July 20, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)
Image: Lewis Hamilton is fourth in the drivers' championship coming into the Hungarian Grand Prix

"We only had one tyre that we were going to use this session. Not really a great format this change that they made for this weekend, it just means we get less running," said Hamilton.

"Not ideal, and there's a lot of wet tyres I think they throw away after every weekend, like a lot, maybe they should look at something like that rather than taking time on track away from the fans."

Max Verstappen was 11th in Practice Two which was not representative of his car's actual pace because of the programme Red Bull ran due to the new tyre rules.

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Max Verstappen felt the car is still strong with new upgrades to his Red Bull after Friday practice at the Hungarian GP.

Verstappen, who leads the drivers' championship by 99 points from Sergio Perez, agrees with Hamilton's comments.

"With this new format, you are super limited with the tyres you can use and I didn't want to use them today to at least have better preparation tomorrow," he explained.

"It's a shame. There are so many people around and you basically don't run a lot so we will have to see what we can do to improve that. We are literally just saving tyres which I think is not the correct thing."

Norris: Without rain we would have done nothing in P1

The new format for Budapest and Monza means 40 sets - or 160 tyres - are saved over the course of the weekend. If this was implemented at all 23 races this season, it would save 3,680 tyres. This is the main reason F1 are trialling the 'Alternative Tyre Allocation'.

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Sergio Perez had a moment to forget in first practice as his 'elementary' mistake resulted in him crashing into the barrier.

Lando Norris was second in Practice Two and thinks the rain in the earlier session actually meant more running was done.

"I think we were lucky it rained, otherwise pretty much no one would have done anything in P1. It's complicated, it's confusing to me even," he said.

McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri added: "It's tricky. You're trying to use as little amount of tyres as possible while learning as much as you can.

"I think it would have been quite a limited day of running if it was fully dry. We probably saw more laps than we would have with the rain. It's never that fun when you have one or two sets of tyres for a whole Friday, but it's a new challenge for us all."

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F1 Juniors presenter Scarlett gets the lowdown on being a pitlane reporter from Ted Kravitz and asks if he will swap his notebook for a tablet?

Sky Sports F1's live Hungarian GP schedule

Saturday July 22
8:45am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Hungarian GP Practice Three (session starts 11:30am)
1:10pm: F2 Sprint
2:15pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying build-up (Sky Showcase)
5pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Sunday July 23
7:20am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
11am: Porsche Supercup
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday - Hungarian GP build-up
1:30pm: F1 Juniors: Hungarian Grand Prix (Sky Sports Mix and Sky Showcase)
4pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook

Daniel Ricciardo's return and first F1 Juniors broadcast headline the Hungarian Grand Prix! Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Stream the Hungarian GP and more with NOW for £21 a month.

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