Hamilton’s W13 featured a new experimental floor during the opening session at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, where Mercedes trialled a large cut-out at the floor’s edge behind the forward floor fences.
The seven-time world champion was eighth fastest – half a tenth slower than his teammate George Russell.
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The measure was then removed for FP2, but according to Russell, Hamilton drove with “the biggest deviation in set up” the pair had experienced this season.
Hamilton’s car looked a handful throughout the session as the latest winner of the Canadian Grand Prix slumped to 13th fastest, 1.3s off the pace with the gap to Russell growing to half a second.
“It was pretty much like every [Saturday] for us, trying lots of different things, an experimental floor on my side, which didn’t work,” Hamilton said.
“Nothing we do to this car generally seems to work, we were trying different set-ups, me and George, different set-ups in FP2 just to see if one way works and one way doesn’t.
“I’ll wait to hear how it was for him, but for me, it was a disaster.
“It was like the car is getting worse, it’s getting more and more unhappy the more we do to it.
“We keep working on it, it is what it is, I think this is the car for the year, so we just have to tough it out, and work hard on building a better car for next year.”
Hamilton endured a mixture of lock-ups, mid-corner snaps, poor ride quality and a lack of traction. He said the car was being easily unsettled by the kerbs, which have to be attacked in Montreal, and that was abundantly clear when observing his onboard.
“One touch of kerb and the car goes flying,” he said.
“Here you need to be able to use kerb so it’s very tricky.
“It’s not the Montreal I know, that I’m used to and have experienced in my career.”
Russell’s car did not look to be as unpleasant onboard, although there were differences in the cameras used for each driver.
Audibly there was a contrast, with Russell’s car showing no signs of the throttle and rev changes synonymous with corrections caused by sudden snaps or wheelspin.
Part of this may be down to driving styles but the fact that Russell said the pair had gone in “drastically different directions” could tell more of the story.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever felt any car here,” Hamilton said.
“I’m hoping that overnight we can make some changes. But it’s the fundamentals of the car, it is what it is, and it’s going to be a struggle.
“It’s just a monumental fight the whole time to keep it out of the wall, when it bounces, when the car leaves the ground a lot, and it lands, and it grips up and goes in different directions.
“You’re just trying to catch a car that jumps, hops, grips, hops, grips.
“It’s tough, keeps you on edge. There were some big hits today – we raise the car and it doesn’t make a difference.”
With his car difficult to control on the kerbs and the infamous Wall of Champions – a notorious chicane that has ruined the races of many a world champion – waiting at the end of the circuit, could Hamilton’s race weekend be about to boil over?
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