In the first two Friday practice sessions, both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell lamented several issues with their cars and the track.
After showing some serious improvements in Barcelona last week, Mercedes didn’t seem in great shape around the streets of Monaco with Lewis Hamilton finishing P10 and P12 in the respective practice sessions and Russell going from 8th to 6th.
Seven-time-world champion and three-time-Monaco winner Hamilton then explained exactly why he struggled.
“Firstly, it's the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It's probably the bumpiest track I've ever driven, so that makes it one, difficult – but two, just generally our car bounces a lot. It's different bouncing to what we've experienced in the past; it's in the low-speed also, but it's not aero[-related].
“I think the bumps on the track just make it worse. But otherwise, I’m not really having to learn the track differently. Just fighting the car to put a lap together is [like]: ‘wow... holy crap! I don't remember experiencing it like that before’.”
The Briton also added that he’s expecting a battle with McLaren this weekend.
“As I said, putting the lap together is difficult, but I think we made some improvements going into that session [FP2]. And it doesn't even feel like, when you actually do try and put a lap together, the grip doesn't feel terrible.
“It's just your eyeballs are coming out of the sockets. So, we've got some work to do overnight to try and fix that.
“As anticipated, I didn't think we would be as quick as the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. Our battle is to try and stay ahead of the McLarens I think.”
Friday in Monaco ✅ A positive step forward for George.— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 27, 2022
Lewis ends the day in P12 - he just wasn't able to get a clean lap in during that session pic.twitter.com/wrkuFF113o
Hamilton’s team mate George Russell generally agreed but appeared slightly more confident.
“I don't feel too bad after today,” he said. “I think I could be feeling better. I think it was a relatively good day but we're not where we want to be. We're P6, there's a McLaren ahead of us.
“We want to be the best of the rest, I think that's going to be a fair result this weekend in the sense of being behind Ferrari and Red Bull. But we need to make sure we don't have cheeky little Lando [Norris] popping it in there too.”
Just like Hamilton said, even Russell suggested that the stiffer 2022-spec cars are making it even harder to put together a lap. Furthermore, the young driver added that Ferrari isn’t struggling as much – and his squad have it all to do to catch up.
“Very, very stiff around a bumpy street circuit, it's not easy to put it on the limit, and I think that's one of the biggest difficulties. And I think Ferrari… we're seeing how good they've been over the kerbs. We saw it in Imola, they were just smashing over them with relative ease and it's obviously playing into their hands at the moment, so we've got a lot of work to do overnight.
“I'm not too sure we can really close that gap but nevertheless, it's always good fun driving around here.”
We’ll see tomorrow if the team can work wonders overnight and finally put “that lap together”.