Lewis Hamilton with work to do ahead of 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying

PUBLISHED: 14:11 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:11 29 September 2017

Lewis Hamilton in the pits during practice for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

Lewis Hamilton in the pits during practice for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

Lewis Hamilton endured “a difficult day” behind the wheel ahead of qualifying for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team has work to do after the first practice sessions in Malaysia.

Formula One world championship leader Hamilton finished the morning session in sixth place, with Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas in P7 on a damp track at Sepang International Circuit.

Hamilton, the 32-year-old Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire, ended the day in P6, with Bottas in P7 when the afternoon session was suspended due to a red flag.

That leaves the Mercedes team with plenty to do to beat Ferrari and Red Bull to pole position in Malyasian GP qualifying on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]Lewis Hamilton at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

Winner of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix last time out, Hamilton said: “It’s been a very difficult day.

“I’ve been struggling with the car today, so we have to review and try to understand where we have gone wrong with the balance.

“We’re hoping that we’re able to find our bearings overnight and regroup for tomorrow [in qualifying].”

Stevenage-born Hamilton added: “I had a great group of people who were in front of my garage today all day long, sending really positive energy.

Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

“So a big thank you to everyone there and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

Mercedes colleague Bottas said: “Those were obviously tricky practice sessions.

“We had quite limited running because of the rain in the morning.

“I also had a bit of an off in FP2 that cost us some time, we lost a few laps because of that.

Lewis Hamilton on track at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]Lewis Hamilton on track at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

“And then there was, of course, the red flag in the end.”

The Finn added: “We didn’t get all the test items tested today, but I think that is going to be the case with all the teams.

“We’re definitely lacking some performance, it seems like Ferrari and Red Bull are very strong.

“So we have some work to do if we want to be on the front row tomorrow.

Valterri Bottas in practice for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]Valterri Bottas in practice for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG]

“The car balance itself didn’t feel too bad; it’s just a question of overall grip.

“The key area we are going to need to focus on tonight will be getting the maximum out of the tyres over one lap.”

Both Silver Arrows drivers ran the Intermediate compound tyres in first practice.

In FP2, Hamilton and Bottas then used the Soft compound tyres before changing onto the SuperSofts for short and long runs.

Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin said: “Overall it’s been a very challenging day.

“The car wasn’t working as well as it normally has done this year and the drivers were both complaining of very low grip and sliding.

“The car hasn’t looked strong in any conditions, be it on Intermediates or in the dry conditions we had in FP2.

“So we’re looking very carefully at the set-up and the configuration of the car just to try and understand what’s gone wrong.

“We are clearly not getting the most out of the package here.

“We’re going to be working very hard to unpick what we’ve seen today and come back stronger tomorrow.

“But at the moment it’s clear we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re to present a good challenge to Ferrari and Red Bull this weekend.”

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