Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton admitted the Las Vegas Grand Prix circuit was “a lot of fun” after an extended, but heavily delayed FP2 session.

Drivers had little chance to sample the brand-new street circuit during first practice after a loose drain cover brought an early end to the session.

But after a significant delay of two and a half hours, FP2 commenced with 90 minutes of running. Whilst Max Verstappen was unimpressed by the street venue, Hamilton was overwhelmingly positive.

“We are travelling at some serious speeds out there,” the British driver said. “It’s incredibly fast and it’s a lot of fun, I had so much fun today.

“I’m so glad that we did get to run again. Obviously, not great in P1 and what happened, but they did a great job to fix it and yeah an interesting session.”

Having troubled the top of the timesheets early on, Hamilton ultimately finished the session down in ninth place, 1.398s off pacesetter Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari.

However, the seven-time World Champion remains confident that Mercedes can challenge toward the top and anticipates a close level of competition going forward.

“I think when we are all out on similar tyres we are not too far off,” he added.

“Obviously, everyone is having graining and people running out of tyres but I think everyone is in a similar boat.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 16.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Practice Day.

The inclusion of a 1.9 km straight, amongst a circuit made predominantly of straight-line sections, has prompted teams to run a low-downforce setup in Vegas.

That combined with low track temperatures – 15.5c 10 minutes into the session and dropping a couple of degrees throughout – and a lack of grip due to the new surface has led Hamilton to believe qualifying will be key in gaining good track position come the Saturday night race.

“It’s massively challenging, there’s not a lot of, even though they got the long straights there’s not really a lot of places to overtake because the grip is so low and the tow is not huge a bit like Monza when you’re behind people because you’ve got the small wing there’s not a lot of drag,” he explained.

“So it’s going to be interesting. Qualifying I think position will be really important and obviously degradation is going to be key.”

Despite the challenges posed by the delays to FP2, with the session concluding at 4 am local time and the challenges still to come this weekend, Hamilton is relishing the opportunity of racing in Vegas and remained in a buoyant mood post-session.

“I had a blast and I didn’t really, everyone’s struggling with jet lag and all that stuff and I feel really great,” he concluded.

“I just watched a movie in between the break and I feel great, ready to go again.”

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