Three-time Hungarian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton has explained how Mercedes are on the back foot this weekend after missing the tire test at Silverstone last week.
Mercedes were banned from the test after holding their own private test with Pirelli in May, and despite this setback Hamilton is still optimistic of a good weekend.
“We got a lot of laps in on the new tires today which was positive and gives us a lot of information to look at and take into our programme for the weekend,” Hamilton said in a statement.
“We came into the weekend on the back foot a little without experiencing the new tires. The balance feels different and we need to work on the right set up but we learned over the course of the day, made some changes and will make more for tomorrow.”
The 2008 world champion refused to make any predictions for the race itself, although he did acknowledge the pace of his rivals as Red Bull dominated practice on Friday.
“It’s difficult to know how the weekend will go for us. Others look quick here but we can generally pull a bit more out in qualifying so let’s see how tomorrow goes.”
Mercedes have struggled at the particularly hot races so far this season with Nico Rosberg falling from 1st to 9th at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and as temperatures are expected to soar on Sunday, the team could be in for a difficult race on Sunday.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.