Lewis Hamilton sends pointed warning to his Mercedes team not to ‘eff it up’ at Japanese Grand Prix

LEWIS HAMILTON is optimistic of a decent result in this weekend’s Japanese GP – providing his engineers don’t “eff it up”.

The seven-time world champion has made a dreadful start to the season, which he labelled as his worst since he joined F1 in 2007.

Lewis Hamilton is aiming for a positive result in the Japanese GP
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Lewis Hamilton is aiming for a positive result in the Japanese GPCredit: Splash


However, after a positive opening day behind the wheel in Suzuka, he has reason to smile again and is confident of a solid race, provided they don’t stuff it up.

He said: “It was a great session, it was a really good session for us. It was the best session that we’ve had this year, it’s the best the car has felt this year so far. So far, pretty positive.

“I was really excited because this is a circuit that every driver loves to drive.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and a difficult balance to drive here.

“And given the difficult last few races we’ve had, great work has been done this past week and we just seem to have hit the ground a bit more in a sweeter spot.

“So, I haven’t really made any changes since [FP1]. I think we’ve got a better platform or baseline to start from, so as long as we don’t make too many changes and eff it up…

“I think probably just stay where we are and hopefully we’ll have a [good weekend].”

The problem for Mercedes this season has been so bad that boss Toto Wolff performed a u-turn on his decision to skip the Japanese GP.

Wolff struggles with jet-lag for the race in Suzuka and was set to work from home, where he would still be in contact with the team in Japan.

However, following their poor start to the season, and with neither Hamilton nor George Russell finishing the Australian GP, the Austrian has changed his mind not to attend.


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WHO COULD REPLACE HAMILTON AT MERCEDES?

Mercedes will have a vacant seat for 2025.

Here, SunSport’s F1 correspondent Ben Hunt looks at FIVE potential candidates who could replace him and partner George Russell in the Silver Arrows.

Oscar Piastri – McLaren have sewn up Lando Norris to a new long-term contract that should (in theory) put him out of Mercedes’ reach. However, they are yet to tie down his teammate Piastri, 22. The Aussie has an excellent record and won the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles before spending a year on the sidelines with Alpine and getting his chance in F1 with McLaren. He impressed on his debut season last year and has the potential to be a world champion.

Daniel Ricciardo – The experienced driver’s future remains in doubt as he bides his time at Red Bull’s B-team. Ricciardo would be low-hassle and offer some stability but by that time he would be 35. It seems unlikely that they would opt for him at this point in his career, but if he has a good season this year, he could come into the reckoning.

Kimi Antonelli – You may not have heard of the Italian, but he is mustard. Still only 17, he has won at all the junior categories and has been part of the Mercedes young driver programme since 2019. This season he has been promoted from F4 to F2, where he has been tipped to shine. A good debut season in F2 could sway Mercedes into taking a risk on him for 2025. Antonelli and his family are close to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Mick Schumacher – Wolff has always been so incredibly supportive of Schumacher and spoken highly of him, that you’d at least expect him to come into consideration. He knows the team from his role as reserve driver and consequently would get up to speed. But speed is also the problem. He was shocking at Haas and if he really was THAT good, he’d still be driving in F1.

Alex Albon – A more-sensible choice would be the London-born Albon. A great guy who is also very quick. He has a fantastic relationship with Russell and would be the low-maintenance quick partnership similar to Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas that swept to successive titles. Albon would take little convincing to join from Williams and Mercedes would not need to pay him half of the £50million they were dishing out to Hamilton.

He said: “I had planned not to come to Japan, because there’s so much going on back in Europe, things to do.

“But then I felt not coming to Japan was the wrong choice. I think it’s important to be with the race team…it does me good also, to be close to the action.

“We’re experimenting with a few things and then being part of the team really gives me energy and I hope the other way around, too. So that’s why I decided against staying in Europe.”

Hamilton had earlier spoken about the harsh reality of seeing both cars fail to score a single point after making the long trip to Melbourne.

I think we’ve got a better platform or baseline to start from, so as long as we don’t make too many changes and eff it up…

Lewis Hamilton

He said: “It’s all about perspective. I think for us of course we’ve not started the season where we wanted to be.

“We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve seen in the past — last year for example — how things can switch with certain teams.

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“I think we’ve just got to learn as much as we can, take as much as we can from the data, remain positive, continue to work hard and I always say it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up.

“We will just continue to chase and fight and hope we can be fighting at the front at some stage.”


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