Miami Grand Prix – Mercedes – Russell in front, Hamilton in the top 4: “We’re not getting carried away”

“The team brought in a new front wing and a new rear wing, parts that are part of a lower drag aerodynamic package”, explained Mercedes on Friday after the first day of practice at the Miami Grand Prix. It sounds simple, said like that, but we know that it is not. The Brackley team has been struggling with a phenomenon of porpoising since its W13 put the wheels on the ground, last February 23, in Montmelo, and George Russell was told that the staff of the German team could need five months to get rid of unwanted rebounds from his high-speed machine.

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Will it have taken him five races? This is the whole question that the paddock is asking after the encouraging first day of the Grays on the 78th track in the history of the world championship. On Friday, George Russell set the second fastest time in free practice 1 and then beat the whole field in the second session.

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As for Lewis Hamilton, notoriously more in difficulty than his young teammate faced with this problem of instability since the start of the season, he has made spectacular progress in terms of driving comfort, translated by lap times that are finally closer to his neighbour. of stand. Timed with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)’s eighth time at 0.858 in free practice 1 – i.e. in the average of his delays observed in qualifying during the first four rounds, the seven-time world champion has clearly raised the bar by signing a promising fourth in time, 0″241 off his young compatriot’s time in the second session.

The section under the problematic bridge

How to see things in a better light? Not sure, according to the main interested parties. “We always knew that the hot conditions here in Miami would suit our car better (up to 56°C on the track). We suffered from not being able to get the tires up to temperature in previous races and that is a big factor hereremarked George Russell. The car drove well on Friday but it’s only Friday, we don’t get carried away. This is probably the most fruitful Friday of this season in terms of learning. We always knew porpoising would be there, but it’s happening at a lower level.”

“Some races are going in our favour, some are going against us – like Imola – but so far the car is doing well here. This circuit is unique. I wasn’t sure how to negotiate the tight, slow section under the bridge – it’s a bit of a knock on the head – but for the rest they did a sensational job in the twisty sections, with the high-speed corners. It’s great for the fans.”

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Hamilton: “I’ve already lost two kilos”

“It was just practice and everyone did different things, without showing their real pace, so we don’t get carried away.confirmed Lewis Hamilton. The car looks the same to me but we seem faster and we have obviously gained places. We still have some rebounds, so we haven’t eliminated it but, little by little, we are improving the car. The race is going to be tough, especially in terms of overheating tires and it’s very hot for the drivers. I have already lost two kilos today. The heat reminds me a bit of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpar is still number 1, ahead of Singapore and now Miami. George looked great, the team tried a lot of things on the cars so we will converge and hopefully that will do us a good job.”

“We have some new aero parts to try, but overall we’ve made some progress.added Andrew Shovlin, the chief engineer. There is still a lot of progress to be made on the balance and overheating of the tires is also an issue. The mid-day sessions are very hot and keeping the rear tires warm is a real challenge. these will be the main areas for improvement. There are advancements to be made on a lap and ride height. There are two notable bumps here which destabilize the car.”

“I’ve been saying since the pre-season that it’s only a matter of time for them to solve this themselves (the porpoising), recalled Christian Horner, the director of Red Bull Racing. It’s starting to happen. The characteristics of the circuit help but they are starting to get their worries under control.”
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