2024 Japanese Grand Prix – Sunday

2024 Japanese Grand Prix – Sunday

George Russell finished P7 and Lewis Hamilton P9 in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Lewis started seventh with George ninth on the grid. They held these positions through the opening corners before a red flag flew after a shunt for Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon.
From the standing restart, the team opted to give itself the most flexibility between the one and two-stop strategies with Lewis and George switching to the Hard tyre.
With others starting on the Medium and the Soft compound, Lewis dropped to P8 and George P10 at the restart.
Having cycled through the order on a long first stint, and having inverted positions, George and Lewis lost race time being overtaken by those who had stopped onto fresher rubber and without a clear window in which to pit.
With tyre degradation looking higher than forecast, the two-stop strategy began to look the more viable option. George and Lewis pitted on laps 22 and 23 respectively for the Hard tyre, before stopping once more on laps 37 and 39 for the Medium compound.
With stronger pace in the final two stints, George was able to close on the McLaren of Oscar Piastri and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso. After a fierce battle, he made his way past the McLaren but had to settle for P7 with Lewis in P9.
The next race for the team is in two weeks’ time as we return to Shanghai and the Chinese Grand Prix for the first time in five years.

George Russell
We moved forward today and that was positive. The plan to start on the Hard tyre after the red flag was to give us the flexibility to attempt either a one-stop or a two-stop. It was good to have this freedom and ultimately, we ended up on the two-stop strategy as the one stop wasn’t working. We had a challenging opening stint but after that first stop, our pace looked competitive to those ahead. It was an exciting race towards the end. It’s always nice to be attacking rather than defending, and it was good, hard racing. There was some contact with Oscar, which was a racing incident, but I was glad to get the position in the end. It’s close between the four teams behind Red Bull and qualifying is going to be critical at each race. Whoever starts ahead will likely finish at the front of that pack. We know we’ve got work to do and we will keep pushing. Hopefully a track like the one in China will suit us better.

Lewis Hamilton
It was a difficult day today. I did my best, but the result wasn’t a good one. Unfortunately, that is where our car is at the moment. I didn’t feel great on the Hard tyre and picked up a little bit of damage on the restart. I had lots of understeer, particularly during that first stint, which was why I decided to let George past. Once we put on the Medium compound, it started to feel a little better. The final stint was the first time in the race that I felt like I had good grip. We need to keep working hard as today, our pace was likely only good enough for P6. If we want to move up the grid, then we will need to add more performance to the car.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
It was a difficult race today. Our second and third stints were quick and were similar to those ahead who were fighting for the podium. A poor first stint cost us today though and we need to find out why that was. Our decision to take the restart on the Hard tyres was the right one I feel, and, in the beginning, our pace was stable with our direct competitors. We suddenly dropped one to two seconds a lap though and at the moment, it was clear that the tyres wouldn’t make the one-stop viable for us. Overall, this weekend has been better than the final results suggest. We have lots to learn and there is no track relevant excuse we will use; we need to be quick at all circuits. But from what we’ve seen here, we can say that the car is becoming quicker. We will continue to work hard, and I am excited to head back to China in a few weeks after such a long absence from the calendar.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
It wasn’t an easy race today. We weren’t quick enough in qualifying so were starting too far back to challenge for the podium. Early in the race, our pace was simply not good enough too. We’d decided to go to the Hard tyre at the red flag as we felt there wasn’t much threat from behind, and it was our best way to offset and try something different. Towards the end of that stint we were really struggling with low grip. We couldn’t stop early as there was too much traffic in the window, so we stayed out until we had cleared it. Unfortunately by then, we had lost a chunk of time. The second and third stints were more encouraging, but we’d lost too much time by that point to get back into the mix. We know that we are not quick enough at the moment, so we will continue work hard to improve that. Despite the challenging result, it has been a useful weekend to learn more about our car and develop our understanding of the W15.

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

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