Hamilton: Red Bull ‘fastest car I’ve ever seen’
By Mat Coch
Monday 20th March, 2023 - 7:16am
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has described the Red Bull RB19 as the “fastest car I’ve ever seen”.
Sergio Perez won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from team-mate and championship leader Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman climbed from 15th on the grid, breezing by Hamilton to take eighth on Lap 12.
Verstappen’s charging drive back to the podium follows a dominant performance in Bahrain in the opening round where he headed Perez in another Red Bull one-two.
After two rounds in 2023, the Milton Keynes squad has 87 points in the constructors’ championship, 46 clear of Mercedes in second.
Red Bull straight-line speed
“I’ve definitely never seen a car so fast,” Hamilton said.
“When we were fast, we weren’t that fast.
“I think that’s the fastest car I’ve seen, especially compared to the rest.
“I don’t know how or why but [Verstappen] came passed me [with] some serious speed – I didn’t even bother to block because it was just a massive speed difference.”
Red Bull proved especially rapid in the speed traps in Jeddah, Verstappen proving the fastest through the speed trap at 342.7 km/h with its DRS flap appearing especially efficient.
Hamilton by contrast was the 14th quickest at 326.1 km/h through the trap while Logan Sargeant was second best behind Verstappen at 336.7 km/h.
Better weekend for Mercedes
The weekend ended with Mercedes in a more positive mindset than it had been earlier in the weekend.
George Russell was classified third after Fernando Alonso picked up a post-race penalty and Hamilton fifth.
Carlos Sainz was the best-placed Ferrari driver in sixth, one spot up from Charles Leclerc in a performance that surprised Hamilton.
“It’s definitely strange to see that Ferrari are behind us,” he noted.
“And it’s positive for us. It’s a different surface here and we don’t really understand why this surface works one way and it’s different in another.
“So there’s lots of positives to take from this weekend.
“It will be up and down throughout the first few races and hopefully we can get some upgrades ASAP and try and close that gap to the Astons.”
Aston Martin sits third in the constructors’ championship but, if not for Alonso’s post-race penalty, would have been tied on points with Mercedes despite Lance Stroll failing to finish in Saudi Arabia.
Formula 1 heads to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks with Hamilton and the team chasing more downforce from the W14.
“We’re a long way down on downforce,” Hamilton said.
“We’ve got to pick up the rear end downforce particularly.
“The more rear we gain, the more stable the rear becomes and more confident I’ll be to be able to attack.
“I think even if we do change that, there’s a specific thing with something in the car that I have, a position that I’ve not had in the previous year’s car, and for me it’s the thing that’s giving me the [discomfort].
“So I’ve just got to work harder with the team to make sure it’s changed.”
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