Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2021

Hamilton unsure if rapid qualifying pace will translate to race

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton is doubtful the strong pace he showed in qualifying at Interlagos will remain in race trim.

The Mercedes driver headed every stage of qualifying for tomorrow’s sprint qualifying race at the circuit. He took pole position for the Saturday race by over four tenths of a second from championship rival Max Verstappen.

“I don’t know if that will translate to the race,” Hamilton admitted after qualifying, explaining the difficulties he’s had setting his car up this year. “I’ve been going [through] P3 and sat there for the whole hour trying to make the right set-up change. The anxiety you get is crazy.

“A lot of the times you get it wrong, I get it wrong. And today I got it right and the car was really nice to drive. There was everything I wanted.

“That enabled me to just keep pushing and you saw purple, purple, purple [fastest sector times], so I was just gaining each time.”

Hamilton’s performance came after the team fitted a new engine to his car, and following their heavy defeat to Red Bull in Mexico. “I don’t know how we can go from one track where they’re half second ahead to them being behind,” said Hamilton. “But they’ll be very strong in the race tomorrow. I hope Valtteri gets a good start.”

“We were working so hard to try and get this car right,” he added. “It’s been tough and so to finally get the car feeling as it did today, it feels great, it’s just a testament to all the great work that everyone’s doing in the garage and also back home, all the work that’s going on back home to try and pull out everything we can from the car.”

After the sprint qualifying race, Hamilton will take a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s grand prix. He last took pole position in Turkey, where he also had a grid penalty.

“Of course the last two poles I’ve had, I’ve had a penalty,” he said. “So a bit unfortunate to have the penalty […] but it is what it is and I’ll try and fight back from it.”

Hamilton expects to start Sunday’s grand prix behind Verstappen. “I guess Max is obviously starting on pole now. So it’s going to be very hard, obviously, to catch him. But I’ll do my best to try and get through the field.

“I don’t know what tomorrow will hold. I think the weather would be perhaps better tomorrow, which makes it a little bit more difficult for everyone. But I feel really grateful. It feels like it’s crazy because it’s been a while, so it just feels like the first.”

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2021 Sao Paulo 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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1 comments on “Hamilton unsure if rapid qualifying pace will translate to race”

  1. Well, he’ll have a smaller gap on his rear wing which probably won’t help

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