Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Second place a “monumental result” for Hamilton after practice struggle

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said second place on the grid for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a “monumental result” after the team started the weekend on the back foot.

Mercedes ended Friday practice out of the top 10 at Baku City Circuit. Hamilton set the third-fastest time in final practice, but was aided by the slipstream of another car.

But after taking second place in a qualifying session interrupted by several red flags, Hamilton was delighted to claim a position on the front row.

“The lap was okay,” he said. “We definitely weren’t expecting that.

“This is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you wouldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it. We kept our composure. We’ll continue to have difficult conversations in the background and challenging one another and just never taking no for an answer.

“We’ve moved around, made so many changes over these two days, chasing our tails. And it’s been so difficult but I think the work overnight and particularly between the sessions was amazing from the team and really proud of everyone for keeping positive. To be up there, to be so close to these guys, it’s a great, great start.”

The team had been over a second off Red Bull on Friday. Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas have opted for different rear wing configurations for the race, and the other Mercedes will start from the bottom of the top 10.

“Trying to find the envelope for this car it’s the biggest challenge we’ve had in a long time,” said Hamilton. “Understanding what the car really wants, she’s not been happy all weekend, it’s been a bit of a disaster.

“So for us to be up here and even Valtteri getting into the top 10 is a massive relief and that’s just down to great teamwork.”

Having qualified one place ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen, Hamilton is hopeful Mercedes will be more competitive in the race.

“Our race pace is a lot better than our single lap,” he said. “We’re miles off in single lap and we’re a lot closer in race pace. We don’t understand why.

“I’d like to think hopefully we’re in the same position so we can take the fight to these guys tomorrow.”

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Second place a “monumental result” for Hamilton after practice struggle”

  1. We definitely weren’t expecting that.

    Yes yes, I wasn’t expecting the most dominant team in the history of the sport to qualify on the front row in an era where there are no significant rule changes!
    Hopefully the race will not be too bad with the mixed up grid up front.

    1. Get over yourself

      1. I’ll do once we’ll see another another team winning the championship. It’s only been 8 years by now after all

        1. One day they’ll lose and you’ll be here criticizing the most dominating team ever for not dominating.

          What they did way back in 2014 have nothing to do with what they’re doing this year, after two or three regulation changes, yet people talk like it is the same car and the same circunstances.

    2. Agree with this.

  2. It will be interesting to see what Ferrari and Redbull are like after the ‘rear wing’ crack down.
    If i had to guess i’d say Ferrari were late to that party and are now milking that loop hole for all they are worth.

    Roll on the next race…

  3. Hahaha, monumental sandbagging. How can you let yourselves be fooled like this? This quali turned out 100% as predicted

    1. This. I avoid reading recaps of free practice, I just know Hamilton will be on the front row. Maybe P3 on a really bad day.

      1. But I think a lot of that ‘knowledge’ is that we know when he’s under pressure and the field is nicely bunched up, he always manages to be ahead of his rival.

        Let’s face it not even the most optimistic Hamilton fan, thought he’d be ahead of Max after yesterday

        I was accepting a 15 point deficit – knowing that the next few races are right up Mercedes street (so to speak) – with even Austria probably favouring them these days.

        Of course the race hasn’t even started so who knows

    2. You are assuming that someone get fooled. Who are “You” and “Yourself”? Quali only turned out 50% as predicted , Merc. forgot to take the sand bags out of Bottas car! Monumental screw up!

    3. You predicted Leclerc on pole!!?!

      You sir, are the next Nostradamus!

  4. Anyone that believes anything the guy says is a fool.. #GBSOAT

    1. Very Salty, probably worth 0.75 rodbers

      1. Now I get the reference!

    2. Ok, I see you are really disappointed he’s not starting in 10th position. You don’t suppose the team have the know-how to work themselves out of a rabbit hole, just like RB does when VERS has a bad FP1 & FP? These are teams with brilliant engineers working non-stop to sort out their issues.

      Reply moderated
    3. You seem upset. Cheer up son. 🇬🇧

  5. Leclerc will be 2nd or 3rd by lap 4 at the latest. Hamilton just needs to keep Verstappen behind at the start and he’s golden.

    1. Agreed, the start tomorrow should be a classic..

    2. Mercedes race pace is pretty strong. If Lewis can keep Max behind at the end of lap 1, he’ll beat him in the race.

      Leclerc just doesn’t have the car to win on Sunday.. He’ll probably bag P3 on Sunday though.

      1. This is how it will go. Lewis will win. Max will crash out or be second and Ferrari third. Business as usual. Did anyone really think Mercedes wouldn’t be up there? Haven’t we learned by now to look at tyre wear and FP2 long runs if you want to say anything about what Sunday will look like. I am getting really tired of Toto by now. Yet, there is a tiny part I recognise which is instrumental in his approach. His narrative is also (next to fooling us) a method to keep his own team sharp and hungry. The man is certainly no fool, but is getting on my nerves more and more. Which in the end of course is totally irrelevant to him, as it should be.

        1. It’s just the reddit crowd getting over excited about practice times.

          Reply moderated
  6. Last week lewis/ merc had major issues. Hemce their result. This week they had aome issues aswell but managed to tuen it around. He did not say his package is slow. He said its difficult to get it in the optimum place to extract most out of it. How is that sandbagging? Once again redbull dropped it.

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      5th June 2021, 15:14

      So when Hamilton and Wolff say the sky is pink with red dots, do you also believe them?

      1. Don’t see how you can think they were sandbagging yesterday.

        Can’t see the point in pretending to be so poor that you have to have a fake emergency meeting at the end of the day adding to the stresses, meaning your less mentally fresh for qualifying day.

        But if you like conspiracy theories, so be it.

      2. I would not if they where saying it, but if they say the sky is not pink with red dots but we are going to work hard to make it so, I might :)

  7. One thing that might work against keeping Max back is the fact that the tyres Lewis needs to start the race on are old softs. So basically Max needs to follow and grab the tow on the long straight to get past just before Lewis goes for new tyres… If he does he can put in some faster laps to get in front of Lewis even after the pitstop. I wouldn’t put my money on Lewis this time.

    1. Unconvinced anyone looks after their tyres better than Lewis these days. Monaco was a track specific issues as will Singapore – like in 2015, but no reason to think Max would have advantage

      In fact Mercedes engine change seems to have given them a distinct pace advantage, which has negated all the other disadvantages they have here.

      1. @banbrorace Singapore has just been cancelled this season due to covid travel restrictions. The contenders to replace it at the minute are China, Turkey, or another US race.

        1. Cheers! How could I forget.

          I’m hoping for Turkey. I think it’s one of the best ‘new’ tracks around

          And yes, it would suit Mercedes

      2. Lewis chose a low downforce set-up to get in front of the pack in qualifying and starts on older tyres… That is not really ideal for managing the tyres with a sharp and aggressive racer like Max on your tail..

        1. Lewis’s tyres have an extra lap on them, as do Maxs tyres. No advantage in the tyre age at all. Perez has a set with only 1 lap on them but Max, Lewis & BOT have 2-3lap s on them.

    2. Except that Verstappen also did a second run on his softs, so they have the same number of laps on as Hamilton’s.

  8. Max is too, infact i would argue Max is worst as he did a lap cool down then a lap i think. Lewis backed out of a lap then did a lap.

    Reply moderated
  9. Its that quali mode embargo. Mercedes set their cars for race pace, whilst i suspect the other teams may have found a way around it…

    1. Not really… Hamilton switched to a lower downforce wing. So he will be quite slow in the slow stuff yet fast on the straight. Maybe it works… But starting on older tyres with a low downforce set-up might actually make the race-pace Vs tyre wear a worse trade off. Maybe they just didn’t trust their pace in traffic enough to risk qualifying in 6 th or lower…

      1. Max and Lewis race Tyres have completed the same number of laps. I reckon Mercs will be better on the mediums Either a 2 stopper or one stopper

        Reply moderated
      2. Hamilton’s tyres have the same number of laps on them as Verstappen’s because he did a second run on his first set as well.

  10. Poor Bottas, they used him to tow Hamilton, and than throw away like a junk as usual. We win and loose as team……

    1. Hamilton gets to win and Bottas loses 😂

    2. Looks like RB treated Perez the same way. The difference, Perez was fast all weekend, Bottas was not.

      1. Gabriel Souza
        5th June 2021, 19:41

        Perez had a tow from another car, while Bottas had nobody.

    3. So you are saying they shouldnt take turns on who gets to chose when to go out having agreed that at the beginning of each season?
      And your reason is?

    4. We’ll… Bottas won’t be a part of the team next season.. So maximise him while you can.

  11. Next Hamilton will unify quantum mechanics and general relativity and you all will talk about sandbagging. The man does work.

  12. The theory that Mercedes were using practice to try and force the FIA to take strong action over flexing rear wings makes a lot of sense now…

    Unfortunately for Mercedes they realised that they would need to take some wing off to be competitive in qualifying. And they ended up with the fastest car in the final sector, and probably the fastest car over a whole lap (if it hadn’t been for their unintentional tow on Leclerc…)

    Everyone car is legal today, and Mercedes have the fastest car on the straights (if they want it to be). So exactly what injustice is being righted by changing the load test mid season?

    1. Thats right. With Max and RB leading the championships, Mercedes decided to put different wings on, change the set ups constantly, and slow the cars so they finished in the bottom half of the timings over the weekend; just to make a point.
      And between P3 and Q they changed everything knowing they could blitz the opposition with no meaningful practice.
      It al makes sense now.

  13. I can’t believe I used to be a fan of Hamilton. He’s found some pace in that car no doubt, but I do think he’s lucky to be starting P2 with faster cars behind him.

  14. Bono, these tyres are gone….

  15. They had his rival Bottas become his wingman to give him a critical tow and he’s proud of that?

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