F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Lewis Hamilton expressed concern with both his Mercedes car and the forecasted weather ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. Formula 1’s four-week summer break has ended, with the return to racing commencing at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
Hamilton is currently leading the 2021 Drivers’ Championship, eight points clear of Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman had a healthy lead over the Brit but dramatically crashed out of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone before finishing ninth after taking heavy damage at the Hungaroring.
A dismal few weeks for the 23-year-old has opened the door for Hamilton to regain control of the championship – and the seven-time world champion had a mixed day at practice.
He finished 18th in FP1 before a more respectable third-place in FP2, and the Brit admitted he wasn’t quite in tune with the car as he would like.
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“It’s been an okay day, it’s a bit miserable here huh? It’s been cold but just grey, like normal English weather I guess but it’s been an okay day,” Hamilton said.
“The sessions are very short so there’s not a lot of knowledge to gain from the short time that we have, but we will try and navigate that the best way we can.
“At least it was dry for P2, so we got some laps in but the car wasn’t quite underneath me today.
“We got to do work tonight to try and figure that out.”
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When quizzed about the issues he was experiencing with the car, Hamilton pointed to the difficulty of Spa – particularly at Eau Rouge.
“It’s a massively challenging circuit,” the 36-year-old said. “We’re trying to find that balance.
“This morning, we had it one way and changed it this afternoon but it was very similar. You go faster in the first and third sector but you go slower in the middle, or you go quick in the middle and slower in the other two so trying to find that balance is quite tricky but it’s a great circuit.
“It’s very bumpy now through Eau Rouge – something has happened and they’ve kind of ruined it a little bit.
“I don’t know if there’s a new patch there but there’s a massive bump right at the compression point, which we’ve never had there before. You feel it on the backside!
“I’m sure they’ll fix it, I think it was something to do with the rain.”
It was fitting the Mercedes star mentioned rain, as he could potentially be involved in a wet qualifying session thanks to the unpredictable weather around Spa.
There is also torrential rain expected for Sunday, which would certainly alter Hamilton’s setup for the car.
“If it’s guaranteed to rain then you want more downforce, but then if it doesn’t rain and the weatherman or weatherwoman is wrong, then you’re stuck,” Hamilton added.
“[You’re a] sitting duck on the straights, so yeah we have to be very careful and cautious of the changes we make over the next day – but it’s not our first rodeo.”
F1 returns from its summer break with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 29, the first of three successive weeks of racing.
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