Formula 1 Racing

The “stratospheric” Hamilton laps that have put Mercedes’ F1 rivals on alert

The “stratospheric” Hamilton laps that have put Mercedes’ F1 rivals on alert

For although a scrappy race from George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ultimately meant the chances of a victory from pole position slipped through its grasp, a deeper dive of its weekend pace has prompted the competition to reappraise where it sees Mercedes in the pecking order.

As McLaren team principal Andrea Stella admitted, Mercedes is now delivering a car that in dry conditions at least appears to be out of touch for anything his squad can do at certain points of race weekends.

“I was already saying on Thursday to some of your colleagues that I think Mercedes is part of the fastest teams,” he said.

“Some of the lap times they did the Monaco, some of the lap times they did in the previous events, they were at that stage of the weekend for us, out of range.

“We could not do that lap time at that time of the weekend, not even with low fuel and engine up.

“Clearly they had potential, and I think they’re starting to learn how to use it.”

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

One of those out-of-reach moments came on Saturday morning in Canada when Hamilton dominated final free practice with a lap that was 0.374 seconds faster than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

While some of that gap may have been flattered from using an extra set of soft tyres, it would be wrong to suggest that this run was just a bit of showboating that did not tell the true picture of relative form.

Reflecting on the weekend and the promise shown by the team, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was clear that it was not that single lap that offered the best insight into things.

“In FP3 Lewis did a lap that was out of this world. That was so quick,” said Wolff. “Then his long run was stratospheric, galactical. So, there was a lot of pace.”

That long run from FP3 is indeed interesting, as not many teams elected to try to get some race runs done in the final practice session – with Friday’s running having been so interrupted by the weather.

Hamilton’s long run was like this: 18.224, 18.278, 17.969, 17.533, then an outlier followed by 17.559 and 18.490.

Running a bit later in the session, Max Verstappen did a comparably long run that produced these times: 18.777, 18.419, 17.980, 17.884, 17.982, 17.935, 18.334, 18.889, 18.327.

The data alone probably puts Hamilton’s run slightly ahead – so not quite the ‘stratospheric’ brilliance that Wolff has talked about.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport…

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