Cooler Imola conditions make it easier to balance ‘knife-edge’ W12 – Hamilton

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says that the characteristics of the Imola circuit and the cooler conditions have helped Mercedes to balance their ‘knife-edge’ 2021 car after taking pole for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s 99th career pole position was secured by a margin of 0.035s from Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, with the top eight cars all covered by a less than half a second.

Speaking after the session, Hamilton said that it was even more exciting to take pole position in such a close contest.

“I’m just amazed at how close it is and how exciting that is,” said Hamilton.

“It really adds to the fire and to the adrenaline rush. I didn’t know, of course, whether or not these guys had improved on that last lap for quite some time. So I was definitely nervous. And that’s the excitement of closer racing.

“But I’m really grateful to the team. We came here, the car was feeling better already from the first lap out. And I think that’s probably track-dependent. But really good steps forward, just one step at a time all weekend.”

Having been outpaced by Red Bull in the opening race weekend of the season in Bahrain until the race itself, Hamilton says that Mercedes have done a better job of getting their “knife-edge” W12 within a narrow optimal performance window around the Imola circuit.

“Well Bahrain, obviously the temperature’s a lot different, the track surface’s a lot different, so Bahrain we always struggle with overheating and a lot of crosswinds,” explains Hamilton.

“We don’t seem to have that here, and it’s much cooler, so we were very rarely over the temperature of the tyres. So that’s kind of brought us more in line, I think, with the Red Bulls. And I think it’s really focusing on balance, refining the balance is a very narrow window of tyres approaching at their best. And also our car is probably, more on the knife-edge, I would say, than previous years.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas will line up eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s race after he qualified just under half-a-second slower.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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4 comments on “Cooler Imola conditions make it easier to balance ‘knife-edge’ W12 – Hamilton”

  1. I suspect the knife-edge balance issue is what led to Bottas’s big dip in Q3 and would have demoted Hamilton to P3 if Perez and Verstappen had better laps. Still it’s intriguing that Bottas was the one talking about lots of simulator work to get just the right setup. Again his Friday performance seems to have no bearing on Saturday.

    1. It happens, he got pole last year though. Its not that he is outqualified every single race weekend.

      1. No, definitely not. I just mean the trickier the car or the conditions, the more Hamilton will make a difference. But even so the drop to P8 was quite a fall. I was expecting P4 or P5. I suppose the cars are so tightly bunched at the front now in terms of time difference that a mistake or just an indifferent lap sets you a long way back.

        1. Definitely… the top 8 are separated by only half a second. Any single mistake (since most mistakes are generally worth a tenth or two) means you go tumbling down the order.

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