Lewis Hamilton calls the W15 ‘nicer to drive’ at F1 pre-season testing

Mercedes tapped George Russell for the entire first day of Formula 1 pre-season testing on Wednesday. Russell completed 122 laps over the two sessions, including a full race simulation in the afternoon.

On Thursday, it was Lewis Hamilton’s turn.

The seven-time Drivers’ Champion completed a program with both some one-lap runs as well as a few different race stints, and when the checkered flag flew he slotted in third on the timing sheets, behind Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr., and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez. Hamilton posted his best lap — a time of 1:31.066 — on a set of C3 medium tires, as did Pérez. Sainz’s best time came on the softer C4 compound, and Hamilton’s time on the C3s was quicker than the best time Sainz posted Thursday on that compound, a 1:31.397.

How did Hamilton feel after the session?

“It was a productive day out there,” said the driver in the team’s post-practice report. “We gathered lots of learnings about the W15, both in our long running and single lap work.”

The bigger question? How would he compare the W15 to its predecessors.

In Hamilton’s mind, the team has taken a step forward with their 2024 challenger.

“We’ve clearly made an improvement with this year’s car and it’s much nicer to drive,” added Hamilton. “We’ve still got progress to make of course. But this is a good foundation for us to build on.”

Hamilton’s comments come at the start of what will be his final season with the team. Ahead of pre-season testing Hamilton rocked the F1 world with the news he would be moving to Ferrari for the 2024 season. Hamilton’s decision to leave the team at the end of 2024 will be a massive undercurrent to the entire season, and figures to shape what could be a chaotic F1 “silly season.”

Still, Mercedes fans will be hoping his comments on the W15 foreshadow a tremendous final season for him with the Silver Arrows.

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