Mercedes told to be cautious with warning early enthusiasm could be ‘dashed’

Can Mercedes carry over their positive start at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix into qualifying?

Lewis Hamilton was upbeat about Mercedes' W15 F1 car
Lewis Hamilton was upbeat about Mercedes' W15 F1 car

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been advised to be cautious after Mercedes’ positive start at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton said Mercedes had their “best session of the year” in Friday practice at Suzuka as he finally appeared upbeat about the team’s inconsistent W15 car.

Hamilton finished fifth in FP1, one place behind teammate Russell, with both just under half a second behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in the only representative session of the day.

But 1996 world champion Damon Hill is worried Mercedes’ early optimism could be “dashed” when it comes to qualifying.

“I’m hoping their enthusiasm for this car won’t be dashed tomorrow. We’ve seen the up and down nature of Mercedes,” Hill told Sky F1.

“It’s the most positive I’ve heard these drivers sound for years. It’s amazing they have got enthusiasm to press on in the way that they have done.

“They’ve had a punishing start to the season. And a few years.

“Australia was brutal to them, a mechanical failure for the engine and a crash for George.

“They have probably got every reason to be hopeful for this event. It can’t get any worse.”

Meanwhile, former F1 strategist Bernie Collins warned that rival teams including the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari are yet to show their “full hand”.

“A lot of the feedback you get is based on the timesheets at the end of the day,” Collins said.

“Have we seen everything from the other drivers out there today? I don’t know what they were testing.

“Both Red Bull and Ferrari brought upgrades so maybe they were testing in FP1, and haven’t shown their full hand. Because they will be looking through that tonight.

“The drivers sound positive probably based on how the car feels, and a little on the timesheets. But we don’t know what the timesheets will read after qualy.” 

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