Lewis Hamilton was left grasping for answers as Mercedes’ struggles continued at free practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.

After posting the seventh fastest lap in the first free practice, Hamilton could only manage 13th quickest in the second session despite some tweaks to his car.

Lewis Hamilton

His team-mate George Russell was 11th fastest in the second practice but still more than 1.2 seconds adrift of table-topping Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

‘It was a difficult session. It’s just nothing you change on the car makes a difference at the moment,’ Hamilton told Sky Sports.

Lewis Hamilton

‘That’s the difficult thing. You get in very optimistic and then you make changes and then it doesn’t seem to be wanting to improve.
‘And we made some changes going into P2. P1 was better and P2 ended up being a bit harder for me. I don’t know, it’s just a tricky car.’

Mercedes have been wrongfooted by major aerodynamic rule changes this year, with their W13 car bouncing, or ‘porpoising’, on straights as downforce comes and goes.

The performance issues led to disappointing results in the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and team boss Toto Wolff said there would be no magic fix in Melbourne.

Russell said his car had the worst porpoising he had ever experienced along the sweeping, lightly curved section of Albert Park where drivers hit high speed before turn nine.

‘We are not in the position where we want to be,’ he told Sky.

‘We need to keep digging into the data and understand. We’ve sort of gone from left, right and centre with the set-up and all have resulted in a similar outcome so we need to try and get on top of things and understand why.’

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