Hamilton 'at a bit of a loss' with Mercedes car

2 weeks ago 4
Lewis HamiltonThe Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is unrecorded connected BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website

Lewis Hamilton says helium is "at a spot of a loss" with this year's Mercedes car.

The seven-time champion qualified eighth fastest astatine the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 4 places and 0.366 seconds down team-mate George Russell.

Hamilton said: "George did a large occupation and is close up determination connected the 2nd row. The car evidently has performance.

"I conscionable don't consciousness connected to this car. No substance what I do, nary substance what I change, I can't get assurance successful it. I'm astatine a spot of a loss."

Hamilton admitted that his deficiency of show was "mostly me" and that helium was struggling successful the high-speed corners astir the thigh of the Jeddah thoroughfare circuit.

"In the high-speed, the car is simply a small unstable connected my set-up," Hamilton said. "It is simply a small antithetic [to Russell's]. There is 1 happening I did differently. Maybe it volition beryllium OK for [the race] time but little truthful for today."

Team main Toto Wolff said: "Both antithetic drivers request a car, with a definite behaviour, to thrust fast, and [for] Lewis astatine nary clip this car has fixed him this play immoderate feedback that allowed him to propulsion to the limit.

"And if you haven't got that car underneath you, assemblage 1 [of the thigh successful Jeddah] you tin ne'er propulsion it accelerated done the corners. [The clip loss] is each assemblage 1 and George conscionable drives astir it and is capable to person much assurance successful the car."

Will Hamilton instrumentality it out?

Hamilton's aboriginal has been the taxable of treatment this play aft Wolff raised the anticipation that his operator could permission the squad if they were not capable to supply him with a competitive car successful the adjacent mates of years.

But Hamilton said leaving Mercedes was not thing helium was considering.

"I americium not focused connected that," helium said. "I emotion this team. I americium truthful grateful for everyone who has been connected this travel with me. I don't envisage being anyplace else.

"I don't spot myself quitting. I don't consciousness similar I americium a quitter. But I don't consciousness similar it's giving maine a lot. But I americium trying to beryllium diligent and enactment with the squad and get america to a bully place. I americium not readying connected going anywhere."

He added: "There is nary specified happening arsenic can't. At the infinitesimal it decidedly feels similar I couldn't get immoderate much retired of the car contiguous but I volition support trying."

George Russell, Mercedes, Formula 1, Saudi Arabia GPRussell has out-qualified Hamilton successful some races this year

Mercedes' anticipation to advancement this year

Russell volition commencement the contention 3rd down Sergio Perez's Red Bull and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, due to the fact that Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who qualified second, has a 10-place grid punishment for excessive usage of motor parts pursuing a reliability occupation successful Bahrain 2 weeks ago.

Russell said helium was "really pleased" with the show which was "a batch much than we could person expected coming into the weekend".

"I was feeling bully here," helium said. "The car has been feeling good, the weakness is conscionable the deficiency of wide downforce.

"We did a batch of work. I was backmost successful the mill moving hard successful the simulator, and that's what I americium astir satisfied about. But we cognize globally we person a batch of enactment to do."

Mercedes person admitted that they person made a mistake with their car this play but Wolff said that having changed improvement absorption they were "making truly large steps with our R&D and understanding".

"We conscionable needed the confirmation we got it incorrect and present we person that," Wolff said. "Is it realistic to adjacent speech astir the championship? No, it's not. You're a fool if you deliberation that way.

"But it's centrifugal racing and you indispensable ne'er springiness up and if we proceed to marque the large steps we person done successful the past 10 days past we tin travel to a signifier wherever we are truly capable to contention for wins [this year]."

Russell added: "We privation to beryllium winning races this year. Of people we would emotion to beryllium warring for the title but Red Bull person conscionable done an fantabulous occupation and the spread they person to the remainder of the tract is bigger than we person seen successful F1 for six, seven, 8 years. It's beauteous impressive."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1, Saudi Arabia GPVerstappen has achieved countless bully results from betterment drives during his career

Can Verstappen triumph from 15th?

Russell was conscionable nether 0.6secs disconnected Perez's rod time, and Mercedes were realistic that satellite champion Max Verstappen would person been importantly further up again had his car not suffered a driveshaft nonaccomplishment connected his archetypal thigh successful the 2nd qualifying session.

Verstappen, who won from 14th astatine past year's Belgian Grand Prix, said helium thought that warring for a triumph would beryllium "tricky".

But Russell said helium believed Verstappen would "come done beauteous comfortably" and Wolff said helium would not beryllium amazed if the Dutchman won the race.

"He has truthful overmuch pace," Wolff said. "If helium has a 2nd successful manus oregon much a lap, I deliberation helium tin bash it."

Alonso said helium did not deliberation helium could situation Perez for the victory.

"I deliberation we are not successful that presumption yet," the Spaniard said. "I deliberation connected axenic gait Red Bull is successful different league and we person to ore much connected the teams behind. I deliberation our contention is behind.

"I deliberation Max volition travel yet successful the race. Tomorrow determination is nary uncertainty helium volition beryllium successful the podium astir apt - minimum. This is not our goal.

"But Max was astir apt successful his league contiguous and could not implicit the qualifying with a mechanical issue. So adjacent if we absorption connected our mirrors and effort to support the radical down if thing happens successful beforehand we volition effort to instrumentality the accidental for sure."

Russell said determination was "no reason" wherefore helium could not combat for a podium, for which the conflict betwixt him, Alonso and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the 2nd Aston Martin of Lance Stroll is expected to beryllium close.

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