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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton rues missed potential despite adopting 'sensible' approach

Lewis Hamilton has taken a fresh approach to race weekends in Japan and already felt its benefit after qualifying from the Suzuka Circuit.

Hamilton Qualifying Japan
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Lewis Hamilton has detailed that he has taken a fresh approach during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, resulting in a positive qualifying outing.

Hamilton ended the qualifying session in seventh place but missed out on a spot in the top four by one-tenths of a second.

Mercedes endured a difficult outing in Australia last month with Hamilton explaining after Friday practice that it was "one of the worst sessions for a long time” after struggling with his car.

Hamilton has often made radical changes to his set up across the last two seasons in a bid to unlock more pace from the car.

But in a fresh approach, Hamilton opted not to experiment with the set up at the Suzuka Circuit.

“It’s been a night and day different weekend so far, just in terms of how comfortable I’ve felt in the car,” Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.

“I think we did a really good job over this past week, just the analysis everyone has done in the factory trying to understand how we can get the car in the sweet spot.

“The car has been much nicer to drive this weekend, particularly at a track like this where you need a nice balance. This is the nicest it has felt over the last three years, I think last year we were over second off, it’s seven-tenths [in 2024].

“This weekend I'm not trying all these different random things, I've been just much more focused on making sensible changes.

“I think it's worked, [but] I was hoping I'd be further ahead.”

Hamilton 'hugely encouraged' by sector one pace

Heading into the race weekend, Mercedes was expected to struggle through the opening sector due to the W15's limitations through high-speed corners.

However, its pace was strong during the qualifying session through the opening portion of the track, leaving Hamilton “hugely encouraged”.

“Sector one is the best sector of any circuit,” he said. “It’s absolutely incredible when the car is where you want it to be.

“I can feel exactly where the car is weak. This is the perfect test track, it exposes the limitations of your car [and] where you need to improve it.

“So I know what I'm going to speak to my engineers [about] now, where I need to pinpoint what they're going to work on.”

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