What Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton expects from the Formula One weekend in Japan and why he expects a superior Red Bull performance
In Singapore, Mercedes struggled to win in the closing laps. But a different wind will be blowing in Formula One again at the 2023 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka, says Lewis Hamilton.
The seven-time world champion does not expect a repeat of the Red Bull form seen in Singapore, but believes the team’s poor performance was a one-off slip-up. “I believe that if Red Bull are not 30 seconds ahead [in Japan] like they used to be, then something is going on.”
“Red Bull obviously had a difficult weekend [in Singapore]. But the car should be phenomenally strong in Suzuka. Red Bull has been phenomenal all year, after all. Basically, the team has shone at every track,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton raves about the Red Bull RB19
In fact, the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore was the first track in the 2023 Formula One season where Red Bull did not win. In Singapore, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz was the first time this year that a Red Bull driver did not win.
But a fast and twisty track like Suzuka should suit the RB19 perfectly, says Hamilton. He enthuses: “It should be great to watch the car. Normally you’d come here and love to see Red Bull doing laps here. The whole team and the drivers are really doing outstanding things with the package. “
How Hamilton feels about Mercedes chances at Suzuka
And Mercedes? Will the star brand’s factory team manage to build on its recent Singapore form at Suzuka? After all, George Russell and Hamilton were last involved in the fight for victory at the end of the race.
Hamilton, however, does not want to overrate Singapore and questions whether it was “really the case” that Mercedes was able to match the pace of the front runners. His thesis: “Sainz managed the race” and Mercedes was only “relatively close”. “But it was a great race, precisely because there were so many of us at the front.
“I don’t expect us to have a similar performance this weekend [at Suzuka]. But we are working very hard to try to maximise our material further. And I hope we are not terribly far away this weekend and that Red Bull are not so fast after all, that they are 30 seconds ahead. “