Lewis Hamilton: ‘Manly feeling’ not to be ‘tied’ to car as fighting continues in Saudi Arabia | F1 news

Lewis Hamilton left disappointed after eighth in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday; Hamilton finished four places behind teammate George Russell at Jeddah; Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sunday at 3.30pm on Sky Sports F1

16:33 UK Sunday 19 March 2023

Lewis Hamilton described the lack of connection with his Mercedes car as “unfortunate” after struggling to finish eighth in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who will start Sunday’s race in seventh as Charles Leclerc faces a grid penalty, finished Saturday’s session more than three-tenths behind team-mate George Russell, who will start third after also gaining a place as a result of the demotion of the Ferrari driver.

After a disappointing start to the 2023 season in Bahrain earlier in March, Hamilton was critical of his team for not listening to him in developing the car and admitted on Saturday that he found it “difficult” despite giving his “everything” to the team.

“I feel like I was fighting the car especially at high speed,” Hamilton said. “But I just don’t feel the car under me, I just don’t feel connected to that car and I can’t get it.

“I really don’t know what I’m going to do about it.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and driver George Russell reflect on qualifying and the 3rd place start.

“It’s a shame. It’s hard, I’m giving him absolutely everything.

“Every day I’m here as late as I can and I prepare as best I can, I get in the car and I just can’t connect with it.

“I really don’t know what to say about it.

“It’s good that George had a good run today, so that’s great. Hopefully he can score some good points for the team and I’ll try to recover tomorrow, it’s a new day.

“I’ll give him everything.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez secured pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with team-mate Max Verstappen forced out early with an engine problem.

Both Mercedes cars benefited from reigning world champion Max Verstappen’s shock retirement in Q2 after a driveshaft failure, which left the Dutchman’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in pole position.

While Russell was able to give himself a great chance of a significant points gain by securing third place at the start, Hamilton explained that his driving style meant that his car was set up slightly differently to his team-mate’s.

“George managed to put the car in a different place than mine. I just struggled to get the performance out of the car,” he added.

“It’s mostly me. At high speed, the car is a little unstable in the settings.

“It’s a little different [to George]. There’s only one specific thing I’m doing differently, but maybe it’ll be fine for tomorrow. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Max Verstappen shockly drops out of qualifying with an apparent engine problem

“The car is where it’s at. George did a great job. It’s right there in the second row, so the car obviously has dynamics.

“I just don’t feel connected to this car and no matter what I do and no matter what I change, I can’t trust it. I’m a bit at a loss with her.’

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted earlier this week that Hamilton “must consider” joining other teams in the future if Mercedes are unable to provide him with a winning car.

However, the seven-time world champion insisted he is not thinking about moving elsewhere and “loves” his team.

Mercedes team principal and team chief executive Toto Wolff says he believes Lewis Hamilton will stay at Mercedes despite the team’s recent problems

“I’m not focused on that. I love this team and I am so grateful to everyone who has been on the journey with me with this team. I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” Hamilton said.

“I don’t see myself giving up. I don’t feel like a quitter, but I wouldn’t say it gives me much. Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt many times.

“But I’m trying to be patient and work with the team to get us to a good place. That’s all I can say right now. I don’t plan on going anywhere else.”

Brundle: Merc is not in ‘crisis’ but has a lot of work to do

F1 on Sky Sports Martin Brandl believes that while Mercedes are not yet facing a “crisis”, they need to make some big changes if they are to start seeing improvements on track.

“I don’t think it’s a crisis, I think that’s too strong a word for it, but they have a lot of work to do,” Brandl said.

Sky F1’s Rachel Brooks caught up with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff to discuss the challenges facing the team this season and the future of Lewis Hamilton

“They will have to change the car, I think the first big step we will see will be at Imola in the Grand Prix. After that I think there will be some side pads and quite a few changes.

“They thought they had it sorted over the winter, but they just didn’t. If anything, it’s further back than it was last year.”

Former Mercedes driver and F1 on Sky Sports Nico Rosberg also believes his former team is in a “difficult situation” but in the long term Hamilton will remain “super motivated”.

“The situation is so difficult for them. They are so used to success [and are now] in such a prolonged period of difficulty and lack of progress, I actually struggle more,” Rosberg said.

Former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg insists former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is still ‘super motivated’ despite the team’s current problems

“The talent there is still unmatched. It is such a challenge now to decide if there is a problem and some people need to be moved. It’s really hard.

“Toto (Wolf) has to play a big role in keeping everyone motivated as everyone realizes that they are not going to win races anytime soon.

“This is where the pilots come into play. I think you can see Lewis on the radio always picking up the team and pushing them. That was great to see. George (Russell) certainly does the same.

“From what I can see, Lewis is still super motivated. Russell is level with him and he really wants to beat him, so it’s a great driver.

“The evening in Bahrain, in the Mercedes engineering room, Louis and George were there in front of their computers, so they are really pushing.”

Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday’s race starts at 17:00, with build-up from 15:30. Take Sky Sports

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