f1 belgian gp: same friday problems for mercedes and lewis hamilton - or new ones?

Lewis Hamilton says he has no answer for Mercedes’ early pace struggles during Friday practice at the 2022 F1 Belgian Grand Prix.

Hamilton ended the day sixth and nearly 1.4s seconds off the benchmark pace set by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as Mercedes once again faced tyre warm-up issues amid cool temperatures at Spa-Francorchamps, with rain affecting both practice sessions.

The seven-time world champion said Mercedes’ lack of competitiveness was not unexpected given the team’s Friday form so far this season, though he did confirm he wasn’t running on heavy fuel in FP2.

“We’re just not very quick. I don’t know why,” Hamilton conceded after second practice.

Asked if Mercedes’ pace struggles are related to the conditions, Hamilton replied: “I really don’t know. We’re going out, giving it everything, everything we’ve got.

“It could be tyres, could be tyre temps, could be wing level, could be a multitude of things.

“It doesn’t feel disastrous out there, it’s just we’re a long way off. But we often find this on a Friday and things change a little bit more on Saturday so I hope that’s the case.”

f1 belgian gp: same friday problems for mercedes and lewis hamilton - or new ones?

Mercedes teammate George Russell finished eighth, a couple of tenths behind Hamilton.

Both Russell and Hamilton reported problems getting their tyres up to temperature in FP2.

“I think it’s something we’re struggling with quite a lot this season to get the temperature into the tyres,” Russell explained.

“I struggled quite a lot today with that on every compound we used. So in these conditions it is definitely something we need to work on.

“But it’s something I know that you can find a huge amount of performance when you get in the right window.

“So there’s a little bit of optimism there. But for sure, the gap to Max and the Ferraris is pretty extravagant.”

f1 belgian gp: same friday problems for mercedes and lewis hamilton - or new ones?

But the Briton, who claimed his maiden F1 pole last time out in Hungary, remains hopeful that Mercedes can find improvements in time for qualifying.

“We’re pretty used to having bad Fridays,” Russell added. “So let’s see if we can turn it around.

“I don’t think there will be any guarantees we can find the performance step that we we found in the last race, let’s say.

“But we’ll all be working flat-out tonight to try and get on top of it. But totally different day tomorrow conditions will be very different. So let’s see what it brings.”

Mercedes’ chances are set to be boosted by looming grid penalties for Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, both of whom are set to drop towards the back of the grid for Sunday’s grand prix after taking new engines.

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