21 May 2015
F1 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton ‘just tweaking car here and there’
Lewis Hamilton was happy enough with the initial set-up of his Mercedes F1 car that he could afford to focus on minor adjustments on the opening day of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton had the air of a man comfortable with his lot in F1 as he topped both free practice sessions on the opening day of the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion wrapped up a three-year extension to his Mercedes contract ahead of the weekend, and drove both 90-minute sessions as if a weight had been lifted from his mind. Although he only set the pace by just over a second in FP1 after Max Verstappen posted a blistering lap to claim P2 in the closing moments, Hamilton was nearly eight-tenths clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg in the afternoon before rain arrived over the Principality and put an end to any hope of improvement. Understandably, the Briton was pleased with the way his day had gone, even if he knew that his rivals had been denied an opportunity to challenge his supremacy.
“It's been a good day so far,” he confirmed after FP2, “Here, it is really about getting on the pace as quick as you can, and you're always finding time, every lap you get, and being very specific with the changes you make. You don't make too many, unless you're unlucky and the car balance is quite far off, and generally, with car simulations, that's not really the case.
“Sometimes it does happen but, today, the balance was not far off so we've just been tweaking it here and there trying to gain a bit of performance and learn the limitations. The first session was really good and then this one was really good as well so I'm generally happy with the balance. There are still things I can improve on balance-wise, so that's what I'll work towards.”
While topping practice would appear to be a step in the right direction as Hamilton guns for his first-ever Monaco pole, the Briton was denied a chance to go even faster as he never got to use the supersoft Pirelli, but does not think there will be an issue when he gets to run the optimum tyre on Saturday morning.
“It'll be easy - you just feel it,” he said of getting to grips with the supersoft, “It's not much different from what the supersoft usually is.
“-How tough is it going to be to learn to supersoft tyre on Saturday?
It'll be easy. You just feel it. It's not much difference from what the supersoft usually is. Saturday is another day, but today was positive steps forward, one step at a time. The car is getting there. Monaco is always hard to find the limit at - it's probably the hardest track to find the limit.”
With running voluntarily suspended for much of the second session, drivers only got to sample a drying track at the end of the 90 minutes, but Hamilton admitted that there was little to gain from venturing out.
“I did one lap!” he exclaimed, “All I learnt is that the white lines which have been painted black are slipperier than ever. The black paint is slippier than the white paint! Other than that it's still the hardest track to drive in the wet so we decided not to run. There's no need to take the risk then. If it rains in the race, then we have to go and drive but everyone is in the same boat then.”
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