So far it’s shaping up to be another weekend to forget in Australia for Lewis Hamilton. He became the first driver from one of the ‘big four’ teams to fail to make the cut for Q3 in qualifying this year.
The timing couldn’t be worse – he’s already in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after he was pulled over by the Melbourne police yesterday.
He lines up a disappointing 11th on the grid for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix despite McLaren believing they’d improved their car’s pace over a flying lap.
It’s not unusual for any driver to have a poor result in qualifying now and then. When the gap between reaching Q3 and missing it is measured in hundredths of a second it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
But given distractions outside the cockpit yesterday you have to wonder if his mind was elsewhere. And whether he would have had that problem in the first place if he still had the guiding hands of father Anthony managing his career.
Of course the reasons for his difficulties today could be more straightforward. All the drivers had to cope with traffic on the circuit and lower track temperatures, and some did rather better than others.
Hamilton wasn’t the only driver who was some way off his team mate’s pace. Felipe Massa was seven-tenths slower than Fernando Alonso in Q2 and Q3.
Hamilton faces a struggle to make an impression from 11th on the grid tomorrow. He at least has a free choice of which tyre he will start the race on, knowing that all the drivers in front of him will be on the soft compound.
Was just a one-off blip or are problems that run deeper? Have your say in the comments and have a look at the earlier qualifying coverage for more from other readers.
2010 Australian Grand Prix