Our car never felt so strong in 2024 as in Monaco, says Hamilton after an impressive opening day

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has labelled his opening day as the best Friday so far in 2024 after having topped the first practice session and finished in P2 in the second one-hour outing.

The seven-time world champion had a very encouraging day behind the wheel of his W15 as he set the benchmark in the opening practice. He then went on to take second in Free Practice 2, displaying an impressive pace all through the session.

Expanding on his opening day in Monte Carlo, Hamilton added: "It has been a good day, probably the best we’ve had so far this year, and the car is feeling very positive.

"This track is just amazing in an F1 car, and I’ve been enjoying my driving today – I was pleasantly surprised by the grip level and the way the car was responding, which made it a much more enjoyable ride than the last two years.

"In the second session, it felt a bit less comfortable, and we’ve got lots of work to do overnight to improve the long runs and the front graining. It was a feeling positive on the lower fuel, and we don’t want to lose that, but our focus now is to improve on the long run," said Hamilton.

His team-mate George Russell ended up only 10th quickest in Free Practice 2 after a strong showing in the opening session. However, the Briton was not too disheartened as he explained his lack of pace with steering vibration that the team will solve for the rest of the weekend.

"That was one of our best Fridays of the year, and the car is feeling the best I’ve ever had in Monaco. My session was limited by the steering vibration – as soon as I touched the brakes, the steering system was shaking, and on a track like this where you need confidence to attack, that really set me back.

"Every team is developing so quickly, and you can see how much faster the lap times are this year than last.

"The car is feeling good, and Lewis’s times showed the performance that’s in there, but Charles (Leclerc) is very quick, and we know as well how quickly things can change. I hope we will be fighting for the top five tomorrow."

Speaking of Mecedes' opening day in Monaco, Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin said: "Overall, we've had a pretty good day with both cars. FP1 was productive. We pulled forward the FP2 soft into that session as we expected rain although that never materialised and meant we were on used tyres for the low fuel soft in the afternoon.

"George was struggling with a vibration on braking – we need to get on top of that for tomorrow as it appeared to get worse during the course of the day and was very intrusive this afternoon. However, the underlying pace of the car seems good.

"Our long run needs some work as we've got to be a bit kinder on the front tyres on Sunday but we've got some options for that. We've also got to track the circuit as the grip comes up but it's encouraging that we seem to have a decent platform to work from.