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F1 news: Lewis Hamilton hit hard by FIA rules as Mercedes launch Red Bull investigation

Aug 10, 2023Aug 10, 2023

Lewis Hamilton will be desperately hoping to see some improvements made by Mercedes at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen will be the overwhelming favourite to take the chequered flag once again. The Silver Arrows introduced a range of new upgrades in Monaco last time around but were unable to draw too many conclusions due to the unique setting of F1's most iconic street circuit.

The all-round nature of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will allow Mercedes to gain a stronger insight into their new performance upgrades over the next few days, with the German outfit still looking to close the gap to Red Bull at the very top of the current pecking order. Hamilton has already insisted that he is excited to get going in Spain, where Mercedes will be able to extract plenty of data in order to evaluate their latest package with a greater level of accuracy than in Monaco last weekend.

"You can't really feel a lot in Monaco," said the Brit on Thursday. "It's just not one of those, you would never choose to test an upgrade at Monaco. This is a perfect testing track [in Barcelona], lots of medium and high speed corners so we should get a real understanding of where we stand compared to the others.

"There are some other people bringing upgrades this weekend. What I felt the last race I am intrigued to see what it feels like here, I think our race was pretty decent last year here. I'm hoping for a better weekend. We didn't get a lot of data from last weekend just because you had to take off sensors because the car was heavy. This is where we will get the most information."

Follow Express Sport's live updates below.

That's all from us on a busy day of free practice in Barcelona.

Join us bright and early tomorrow for the build-up to qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Lewis Hamilton believes there is a chance Mercedes could qualify outside of the top 10 at the Spanish Grand Prix after struggling for pace in FP2.

Hamilton's best time put him 11th in the timings and over half a second down on Max Verstappen's time. He was also slower than Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas and Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo.

And the seven-time champion said: "I think from the pace that I have today, it's a struggle for me currently to get into top 10 [in qualifying].

"But hopefully, we'll do some changes overnight. I think it's very, very close between us in that P5 back to P10."

Nico Hulkenberg has stated his happiness at finishing third in the second practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix and thinks Haas have finally unlocked their true performance from the car.

The 35-year-old has never finished on the podium in his entire F1 career, the longest run in the sport's history, but the German is hopeful of a decent weekend in Barcelona after finishing third behind Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.

"It felt decent, especially that lap on new softs, it gives you a lot of grip over one lap," said Hulkenberg. "Particularly in FP2, I think we picked up some performance which wasn't quite there earlier.

"I’m satisfied with how it's gone and hope we can keep it up for the next two days. There's always more to explore, there's always more to do, but I had a good rhythm today and felt at home in the car."

Charles Leclerc thinks Red Bull are still head and shoulders above the rest of the field heading into qualifying on Saturday at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Monegasque finished three tenths behind Verstappen's time of 1:13.9 as the Dutchman topped the FP2 timings and Leclerc thinks Red Bull are set to dominate again.

"It was a productive day as we got through all the tests we wanted to do even if it's difficult to read where we are in terms of performance right now.

"We will keep pushing to try and make the steps forward that we want in order to be more at ease with the car [for qualifying] and then we will be able to see where we are.

"It's clear that although Red Bull has the edge over everyone, the rest of the field is very, very tight."

George Russell says the track changes at the Circuit de Catalunya makes the final corner one of the best in the sport.

The Mercedes star lauded the changes made by the track designers after removing the chicane that preceded the long pit straight.

"It's gone from one of the worst corners in Formula 1 to one of the best corners in Formula 1. So that's really enjoyable," Russell said.

"I think it will probably help overtaking a little bit because the old layout was such a slow speed corner that you could only get so close and then the guy puts his foot down and disappears."

Max Verstappen was once again top of the timings as the Red Bull star went fastest in the second practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Red Bull star was a tenth of a second clear of Fernando Alonso, with the Aston Martin star showing good pace throughout the session in comparison to his team-mate Lance Stroll.

Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise third place in practice, while George Russell squeezed inside the top-10, despite being forced off the track and into the gravel.

Lewis Hamilton's struggles to get to grips with the W14 continued after he could only muster 11th, with half a second covering the top 10.

If F1 fans ever need proof that Max Verstappen's hearing is second to none, the Red Bull star showed off his incredible skills during the second free practice session.

While driving along, the Dutchman could hear the sound of a mobile phone going off.

Remarkably, despite the loud noises in his ear and from his engine, Verstappen still managed to identify the owner of said phone.

"Someone's phone is going, is that Helmut's?"

George Russell was far from pleased with Oscar Piastri's driving during the Spanish Grand Prix practice session after being forced off the track.

The Mercedes star approached Piastri on the track and accused the Australian of forcing him off into the gravel as he struggled to find his way around the rookie.

The Briton fumed on the radio: "Who the f*** was that? In the McLaren?"

Max Verstappen believes Fernando Alonso shares the same ability as him to multi-task while driving in the race, but stopped short of inviting Lewis Hamilton into the same group of drivers.

The Dutchman is often heard making observations on the radio that surprise fans and his own team, while Alonso was able to spot an overtake on the big screen while travelling 200mph in the Miami Grand Prix.

But the Red Bull star doesn't think Hamilton has the same mental capacity to do what he and Alonso can do behind the wheel.

"I do like to think that having extra capacity is a big advantage in F1. You cannot train that kind of thing. Only a few drivers have it," he said.

Asked who he was referring to, Verstappen explained: "For me, definitely Fernando [Alonso] — I can feel that, from the way he operates in the car, picking up on little things, showing this extra capacity — still driving at the limit but thinking about other stuff as well."

When pointed out he hadn't mentioned Hamilton, the 25-year-old said: "No, because Fernando stands out more with that. People will probably start hating me for [saying] that, but just that's how I see it."

Fernando Alonso will be hoping the stars align at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend as the Aston Martin aims to end his long run without a win at his home Spanish Grand Prix.

The 41-year-old is searching for his 33rd win in F1 - his last coming back in 2012 - and in order to give him some good fortune, he has taken Max Verstappen's favourite number for the race.

Alonso will race with the No 14 on his Aston Martin car as he bids to continue his impressive run of form, with five podiums out of six races so far this season. But his garage number means he will be coming out of No 33 in the pit lane onto the track.

And the Spaniard will be hoping those digits, mixed with the other '33' coincidences this weekend, give him the extra luck he needs to beat Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc has insisted that he is not expecting Ferrari's updated sidepod concept to help them compete with Red Bull for victory at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

"We are not expecting any miracles, to be honest," said the Monegasque driver.

"From now on, we want to try and bring small upgrades every race. This one should go in the right direction, but I don't think it’ll be a massive change.

"We have an extremely peaky car that in qualifying, on the one-lap pace with new tyres and with the wind [due to a clear road ahead], it's okay, but as soon as we go a bit outside those conditions, the car loses so much downforce.

"We have been working a lot on that with this new car. [The upgrades] won't gain us that much performance, but should at least be a bit more consistent throughout the weekend."

There are no surprises at the top of the timesheets at the end of FP1, with Max Verstappen leading Sergio Perez as the quickest driver on track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Dutchman sits at the top of the leaderboard with the fastest time of the day after setting a 1:14.606 on the red-walled soft compound tyres.

Esteban Ocon, fresh from his podium finish in Monaco last weekend, comes home in third while Lewis Hamilton ends up all the way down in 12th place in another difficult session for Mercedes.

\ud83c\udfc1 FP1 CLASSIFICATION \ud83c\udfc1Red Bull tops the opening session of the weekend, with Esteban Ocon just behind #SpanishGP #F1

Lewis Hamilton does not fit the philosophy of a Ferrari driver and should extend his stay at Mercedes rather than join the Italian outfit at the end of this year, according to long-time Scuderia test driver Marc Gene.

He told Spanish newspaper Diario Sport: "I am not the one who decides the drivers.

"But knowing the Scuderia today, it does not fit the philosophy. I see him ending his career at Mercedes."


Fernando Alonso is fully expecting Lewis Hamilton to challenge for a record-breaking eighth Drivers' Championship title before the Brit eventually decides to walk away from the sport.

Alonso said: "Lewis will be in contention for the eighth title, I don't know if that will be next year, or in the future, but he will have another chance of winning the championship, that is for sure.

"Mercedes are a very strong team, and Lewis is a very strong driver. He doesn't forget how to drive from one season to the next.

"The Mercedes car is not an easy one to drive and it is not a fast car, but you see every weekend that Lewis is always there, fourth, fifth, fourth, and he was second in Australia. He is driving on top of the car."

Max Verstappen, who is the heavy favourite to win this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, has lost one of his key sponsors ahead of Sunday's race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

One of the Dutchman's main backers, supermarket chain Jumbo, has decided to end their relationship at the end of the 2023 season.

Jumbo CEO Ton van Veen said: "Max is of course a folk hero, but he acts on the absolute world stage. We are a very good food retailer, but only in the Netherlands and a little bit in Belgium.

"We invest more than 20 million euros annually in sports sponsorship, but I can only spend every euro once. We cannot return the money that goes to Max to the customer, or put it into sustainability or health."


Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz has revealed that he will not be covering this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix but will return to his usual role in Canada later this month.

"I'm not [going to be] in Barcelona," Kravitz announced.

"I will be going on a longboat holiday on the Grand Union Canal, so The Notebook will return at the Canadian Grand Prix."


Fernando Alonso has rubbished claims that Lance Stroll is holding Aston Martin back after the Canadian driver's lacklustre start to the 2023 campaign when compared to the Spaniard.

"He has been very unlucky the last two events," said Alonso.

"If we go back to Bahrain, driving with one hand he was very fast, then in Jeddah he had an exhaust problem when he was in front of the Ferraris in P5.

"In Miami, we were risking too much probably in Q1 [by using just one set of tyres] and that compromised the race.

"In Monaco, the debris from Lando [Norris]'s car completely compromised the whole weekend."

Carlos Sainz has revealed that he is excited to see how Ferrari perform in Spain this weekend after following in the footsteps of Mercedes by introducing Red Bull-style sidepods.

"It's a bit of a new direction, into what we believe should be the right path to develop this car," said Sainz.

"Making it a better car, a more driveable car, more consistent, better in the race. That is what we know is our main weakness.

"You’ve seen it hasn't been an easy start to the season and we’ve been struggling, but it is true that with this first step in this direction, we try and correct the deficiencies we have.

"We also know that this upgrade is not going to change our life from one race to another. It's the first step of many steps to come still."

Mercedes technical director James Allison has confirmed that the Silver Arrows will be taking a close look at Red Bull's floor design over the coming weeks.

The Silver Arrows had placed their own photographer close to where Sergio Perez's stricken car was lifted into the air at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix and managed to capture plenty of photographs to study behind closed doros.

"Photographers are positioned at strategic parts of the track where there's a likelihood that the cranes will be brought into play, and they’re there clicking away furiously and then our inbox is subsequently filled with the high-res images of other cars," said Allison.

"Sadly, our own car had its trip into the heavens this weekend. There’ll be plenty of photos in our competitors’ inboxes from that, but yes, we got a nice clutch of Red Bull imagery.

"That's always a good thing for our aerodynamicists to pore over and see if we can pick out details that will be of interest to us in our ongoing test programme."

Toto Wolff has admitted that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton's ongoing push to return to the top of F1 is being hampered by the FIA's strict budget cap rules.

"If we were not in cost cap land, we would have introduced another chassis, which we can't," explained Wolff.

"What we did is a fundamental shift in the design direction, the way we generate grip mechanically and aerodynamically.

"We are very immature in our understanding of the current car, and therefore we expect upgrades to come regularly within the financial parameters that exist, but everybody should be under the same constraints."


Hello and welcome to Express Sport's coverage of the latest news from the F1 paddock ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

The on-track action will get underway in Barcelona later today, with FP1 set to begin at 12.30pm (UK time) before FP2 takes place at 4.00pm.

We'll be on hand to bring you all the build-up and the biggest stories from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya throughout the day, so grab a coffee and stay tuned...

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