Lewis Hamilton has admitted Mercedes’ new car is “the same” as last year’s difficult W13 as the Silver Arrows continued to suffer in Saudi Arabia. The Mercedes star stressed the new model was a “tough car to drive” as Hamilton finished outside the top 10 in second practice.
When asked if the car felt any better in FP2, Hamilton responded: “Pretty much the same. A second off or whatever it was. For me I definitely struggled. I struggle in most sessions.
“We just continue to go into the details trying to improve the balance of the car to make it easy to drive. It’s just a tough car to drive. I know everyone is working hard back at the factory so it’s just a matter of time, just being patient.”
When pushed on whether the W14 was an improvement on last year’s model, Hamilton simply added: “It’s about the same.”
Hamilton set a lap just under a second slower than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in an ominous indicator for the team’s struggles this weekend. The lap left the 38-year-old languishing down in P11 just ahead of Lando Norris and Yuki Tsunoda.
Although, Hamilton was unable to match team-mate George Russell who fared slightly better in the cooler conditions. The ex-Williams star finished P5 and only four-tenths off Verstappen’s time but was still pipped by Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.
The 25-year-old stressed his aim was to simply make the most of what Mercedes had at their disposal in Jeddah.
However, He also admitted the team were still pondering whether the new concept being worked on back at the factory was the right direction.
He said: “You have to maximise the package that you’ve got. Get the setup in a the sweet spot. We’re not going to find a second overnight, as much as I’d love that. We need to continue to understand and recognise, is the new direction that we’re taking the correct one?
“That’s for the guys at the factory to unpick. For me this weekend, you just maximise what you’ve got. Small changes this weekend, close to what we had in Bahrain. We had small items on the car for FP2 but this is just short term.”