Lewis Hamilton feels Pirelli picked the wrong tyre for this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix after the drivers again struggled for grip on the slippery Portimão circuit.
During the venue's F1 debut last year the drivers were sent spinning after a new asphalt surface stripped the track of any grip.
While this year's return saw improvements for the two Friday practice sessions, Hamilton still feels it is too slippery.
Asked if it had improved on last year, he said: “Pretty much the same. It’s a little bit grippier but it’s very windy so I think everyone was struggling sliding around out there.
“Everyone looks like they’re struggling with the balance so it’s difficult to say whether or not it's down to the car, the wind or the track, but it’s definitely been a real challenge to keep the car on track.
“We came here last year and the tyre was too hard and we came here again and this year with the same tyre, pretty much, they’re even harder this year. It feels like we’ve come here with too hard a compound in my opinion.”
Hamilton topped Friday’s second practice session for Mercedes, 0.143secs ahead of Red Bull rival Max Verstappen as the enticing battle between the pair shapes up for round three this weekend.
The reigning seven-time champion believes it will be “a close-run” thing again this weekend. He added: “I don’t know how Max’s lap was. Mine wasn’t perfect.
“We’ve definitely got some time to come from the car and some improvements to make but I’m sure they have too, but it’s close, as it has been the last couple of races, so it’s exciting.”
Valtteri Bottas, who was fastest in the opening Friday session with what proved to be the best time of the day that was two-tenths of a second quicker than that of Hamilton in FP2, backed up his team-mate's verdict with regard to the slippery track.
The Finn has claimed that finding speed from the tyres will be vital for Saturday’s crucial qualifying session.
“I think in terms of pace it was not a bad start,” said Bottas. “It was good to see we are there or thereabouts so it will be close no doubt. But it was quite a similar feeling to last year.
“The rear of the car was pretty loose in places so it wasn’t easy. It is not easy to get clean laps and for me personally today the softer we went with the compounds, the more tricky the car became.
“It has improved. You can definitely feel there is more grip. It is not a huge amount but at least a step in the right direction. I actually found the medium tyre to be the best working tyre so far so there is still work to do.
“I think tomorrow it is going to be really important in terms of qualifying. If you get the tyres right it can make a big difference so it is quite a high priority for us. I think it is going to be close. It is hard to say.
"In FP2 with the softs, I didn’t really get a good lap time but I think it is going to be close and it could swing either way so whoever finds more lap time overnight is going to be on pole.”
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