Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Hamilton “had no rear end” and may start from pits after shock Q1 elimination

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was mystified by a handling imbalance which led to his elimination in the first round of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“For sure there’s something wrong,” he told media including RaceFans after failing to progress to Q2 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. “I don’t know what it is so I can’t comment. I had no rear end.”

His team mate George Russell lapped over a second faster as he progressed to the second round of qualifying.

“I don’t know what George did set-up-wise,” said Hamilton. “The car was feeling good in [final practice] and I made a couple of adjustments. But I had no rear end, the rear was so loose.”

He said he hadn’t encountered such a severe handling imbalance before. “It’s never been that bad.”

Having qualified 16th, the Mercedes driver said he may choose to start the race from the pit lane so he can make more dramatic set-up changes to improve the handling of his car.

“It’s probably going to be a so-so race, it’s probably not going to be that great,” he said. “Maybe I’ll start from the pit lane and change the car again to make sure it doesn’t handle the way it just did.”

“I just apologise to my team,” he added, “everyone worked so hard and when you don’t deliver for them it’s gutting.”

Hamilton’s team radio after Q1 elimination

BonningtonUnfortunately that is just P16. If you just keep on top of that delta. And go strat mode one.
HamiltonSo sorry, guys.
BonningtonNo problem Lewis.
BonningtonCheck the weighbridge lights on the way in. And we’re on the weighbridge.

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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57 comments on “Hamilton “had no rear end” and may start from pits after shock Q1 elimination”

  1. To be honest he didnt look confident at all, was really struggling. Clearly something went wrong with the setup but this definitely doesnt look good on Lewis.

  2. Watching the side by side on Sky and clearly there is a difference on the setup between HAM & RUS.

    1. Driver inputs have a huge impact on a cars behaviour.
      I’m not sure how a replay can make a setup difference clear.

      1. Pretty easily, if you know what to look for. Button, who probably knows Hamilton better than anyone not named “Nico”, seemed to think the car just didn’t have the performance compared with Russell’s.

        1. He was guessing, as he couldn’t believe the pace. That’s how he said it, that it’s gotta be the car because it’s Hamilton, he didn’t say he noticed something about the car’s setup. It was just deduction, considering that Hamilton is perfect. But yes, it could be the setup because he’s surely at least close to perfect. On the other hand, Russel beat him that day and that’s it. If he had worse setup no one would talk about it. Besides, setup is driver’s responsibility.

  3. Seems like Hamilton isn’t the best at setting up his car, because this is another example when he’s massively slower in quali than his team mate (see Monaco 2021, Spain 2019, Russia 2017) and he doesn’t understand why. Meanwhile the last time it happened to Max was in Abu Dhabi 2017, by merely 0.3s. It’s pretty clear Max is simply better than Hamilton in qualifying.

    1. It’s much harder when the car isn’t designed for just one driver.

    2. You do realise qualifying and race setups are different?

      1. Not really. Setup is fixed in “parc ferme” condition when the light for Q1 goes out, so there’s no opportunity to change the setup for the race. Doing so would incur penalties, up to starting from the pit lane.

        Still, if they’re going to do that, throw a PU, transmission, and everything else they’ve got at the car.

        1. Any new engines or parts at this time of the season would just use up his allowance. He wouldn’t be given a penalty, so it would not give him the tactical advantage that it would later in the season.

    3. Such a sweeping conclusion is par for the course for some people with Lewis and it simply baffles me. The fact is that the Mercedes is pretty slow and it is clear that the team doesn’t fully understand why. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Lewis and his side of the garage might try something radical only for it to backfire. It really shouldn’t lead to an inquisition (that unearths 3 previous incidents out of hundreds of races) and the need to somehow bring Max in. Right now, Max’s competition is with Leclerc – I’d prefer to enjoy that particular battle.

      1. Sorry Emma, it has been known for years that Lewis often took setups from his teammates.

        1. Sorry Neiana, but this is pretty common in F1. Rgd. quali stats just look them up. Ham very often shows brilliant qualy laps. Ofc today he obviously didnt get it right.

          1. Sorry RomTrain, your comment that my comment is fairly common only helps my argument that Lewis regularly can’t figure out his own setup and regularly borrows. This was wspecially true with Nico and only margonally less so with Valteri.

          2. It may be common in F1 but “often” isn’t even true for Lewis. Just another one of those things his detractors like throwing around in their continued efforts to diminish his achievements.

          3. Emma, go back and read if you must. It was quite common for Lewis to take Nico’s setups after poor practice sessions.

            If people say he isn’t the absolute best of always everything and forever, it seems like the nonsense comes out. Oh, you think he isn’t the most brilliant person at setups? HAMILTON HATER!!!

            Sometimes it is obvious where the blind fanboyism (fangirlism?) shows up, and it is right in your comment.

          4. @neiana: Actually, for most races, Nico and Lewis ran identical setups, because both drivers had a very similar style.

          5. Sorry, but your usual Anti-Lewis comments are stupid

        2. @neiana

          it has been known for years that Lewis often took setups from his teammates.

          That was the case in his first year with McLaren when he was paired with Fernando Alonso. It’s normal back then given that Hamilton was a rookie and Alonso has been known for being one of the best technical drivers. He improved over the years.

          During their times together at McLaren, Jenson was more influential than Lewis on development path for the car for the 2011 & 2012 seasons and was often credited for his quality feedback. Monza 2010 and Spa 2012 are good examples where Jenson has chosen the set up that proved to be the right one for the race while Hamilton not. Button’s sensitivity to the car and his ability to get the team around him, lead McLaren to rely on his input more than Hamilton and follow his preferences whenever there was a divergence of opinion on Friday over which direction to follow.

          According to Paddy Lowe, Hamilton’s ease with oversteer lead McLaren down a development path of more aggressively pointy cars. Since Jenson’s arrival, that wasn’t the case anymore and that was obvious with the neutrality of the 2011/2012 cars.

          Lewis has surely developed very well after that and in Mercedes and was clearly a better technical driver than Rosberg who used to copy his set ups and was carefully studying his telemetry which annoyed him btw because that was part of his speed. I don’t know how you claim that Rosberg was the better technical driver at Mercedes when Rosberg himself has admitted that he used to copy Lewis’s set ups ?

        3. Not really. Try 2012, when Button’s side of the garage was completely lost, and got lapped during the Canadian GP– for the next race, they reset the car to Hamilton’s setup.

          But hey, don’t let facts stop you.

    4. Yeah, Max was very good in Jeddah last year ;-)

      1. P2 race, P3 quali in the second fastest car…..you’re right, very good 😂😂😂

      2. Same Max who just got outqualified by his team mate?

      3. Verstappen’s lap was actually impressive last year, don’t forget mercedes was superior at the time and he had to give it 100% to compete, and he ended up having like 3 tenths margin and then made the mistake at the last corner, but no risk = no pole back then.

    5. It seems your user name is well deserved!
      (He said, judging you with one gigantic generalisation – wait, where did I see that happen before?)

    6. You may want to edit your post…

      1. Why? Max lost it by 0.3 again, meanwhile Hamilton by embarrassing 0.7s. I never said Max is unbeatable, but he isn’t beaten by such huge margins like Hamilton tends to be.

        1. The difference between drivers is not fixed between tracks, cars or conditions so suggesting someone is better because they only got beat by 0.003, 0.03, 0.3 s is irrelevant and it makes you look as though all you are trying to do is trash Lewis.

    7. @armchairexpert – then explain why Max got out qualified by his team mate who beat both the Ferrari’s.

    8. You pick three races out of 102 as examples to “prove” Hamilton is bad at qualifying– which, by the way, is 1 fewer than his total number of pole positions.

      You ignore the races where his teammate, be it Alonso, Button, Rosberg (that’s three WDC’s) or Bottas (sorry, Kovelainen), had absolutely no idea how Hamilton was so much faster than they were over one lap.

      Talk about cherry-picking your facts.

  4. His early elimination was entirely surprising.
    I reckon he might even resort to a pit exit start through setup changes.

    1. Starting from the pits has the bonus of escaping the first lap melee. I fully expect to see a red flag and a couple of SC this race so pretty much everyone has the chance if they can keep the nose at the right direction and visit pits at correct time (something that F2 sprint race leader failed spectacularly, not entirely by own fault).

    2. I believe there are two completely different setups between Hamilton and Russel cars to get better understanding what their cars can do. This time Russel car was better and Russel setup will be used during race for both.

  5. Jump the shark

  6. Go Lewis go

  7. What nonsense people are posting. That lewis takes his team mates setups what a joke. Its the exact opposite infact. He very rarely if ever looks at his team mates set up. Why try to take away lewiss thunder. He had a very bad qualy. Thats what? 1. He has the most poles in the history of f1. He has the most wins. Then he is also brilliant at using other drivers setups better than them. Lol!

    1. It’s just amusing reading comments because people oversimplify stuff they know nothing about. Lewis is among the most experienced drivers on the grid, and the most successful by a wide margin, and yet people think it’s reasonable to claim he doesn’t know how to set up the car. It’s not as if he’s driving a mature car, to begin with. The team is surely trying to understand the car.

      1. I’m quite sure he’s just struggling with THIS car at THIS point of the development and at THIS track.

        No doubt he will perform better once he has adapted his driving style to the characteristics of the car.

        A great performance by Russell, nevertheless, today!

    2. Right!

      Imagine a guy who has out-qualified his teammates as regularly as he has was only able to do so by stealing their setups.

      And even if that was true, how amazing of him to just take that awesome setup and then beat the guy who came up with it :D

  8. I think it’s simply the case that Russell is good enough, when he’s driving well, to expose when Lewis is having a poor session or weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so comprehensively beaten by a team mate in qualifying with no real extraneous circumstances, crashes etc.

    1. @david-br – he clearly had issues with the car, dunno what he and his engineers did between FP3 and qualifying but it wasn’t representative…. They move on

      1. @icarby Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking Hamilton down. His performance at the end of 2021 was for me the best of any driver bar none. He’s still the best out there in my view. But what I mean is that GR may be the strongest team mate he’s had since Alonso (we’ll find out over the course of this season, I guess) so when things go pear-shaped for Lewis, like today, probably on set-up more than anything like you said, then it the difference may be more pronounced than we’ve been used to seeing.

        1. Mmm, I’m not that sure yet: I’m a russell supporter, and I voted for him to beat hamilton over the season (majority voted for hamilton), but sometimes hamilton has the off weekend where he gets comprehensively beaten even by bottas, think about monaco 2017 or 2021 and some more races. I don’t think beating a q1 eliminated hamilton by going in q3 says much about how good russell has been, if hamilton was on it\the setup was right he’d have been in q3.

          1. @esploratore1 I voted for Russell to beat Hamilton too actually (we were both heavily in the minority). I think they’ll be close, I can just see more issues coming Hamilton’s way.

    2. 2013, late in the season (Spa onwards). Mercedes found a crack in his chassis.

  9. Lewis is a legend and I like him as a person but it’s SO refreshing to see some other guys up there for a change!

    8 years of (often) relatively easy poles and wins is definitely enough…

    1. Time to concentrate on car setups and driving instead of politics fashion and haircuts as he no longer has the best car and take it for granted the car will be right without much effort.

  10. It seems to me Mercedes are using the practices [and qualifying] to test various set ups. This time Lewis lucked out.

    My own feeling is their slim pod design offers nothing for the vortices, they need along the skirt edge, to seal the air flow from under the car. Without a ‘proper’ full pod there is no way to create the buffer to direct the vortices to skirt’s edge.

    Their only hope with this design is to some how create those rolling air flows under the skin of the car to create this cushion to seal the skirt. Or to mechanically seal the skirts at those higher speeds.

    I wonder if Mercedes will resort to their first side pod design?

    1. I’m not sure… one the one hand, it’s possible they’re flexing the floor enough that the vortices won’t remain stable.

      But that ignores the porpoising problem. Mercedes obviously has enough ground-effect to mercilessly slam the car into the ground, and shake the floor loose– well, they’ve got enough airflow along the sidepods to really, really, REALLY energize the rear diffuser.

      Ideally, they need a way to limit the amount of air that can be directed under the car, so they can reach a steady-state of maximum downforce. I think their problem is, simply, too much downforce.

      How they solve this without some form of “moveable aerodynamic device”, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps some form of turbulence inducing item in the venturi tunnels that only works with high airflow.

      1. Yes that’s pretty much how I see it. Somehow they need to prevent the floor from stalling (stating the obvious). Introducing air under the floor when the car is at high speed (floor stall speed) would seem to be a solution. Computer actuated or just a simple spring loaded flap, deformable skirt aero? maybe. Interesting

  11. Can’t believe anyone is dense enough to paint Hamilton, statistically one of the two most successful F1 drivers of all time, as lacking in any way at all. As utterly pointless a waste of time as trying to decide which of the two is the “best”. I am not biased – I was a Button fan who always wanted him to beat Hamilton, but for God’s sake, if Hamilton isn’t a racing genius then there’s never been one. Just drop it and do something worthwhile!

    1. Lol 2nd race in and lewis is walloped by russel. Guess russel is used to outdriving bad cars but lewis only drive wdc cars.

  12. Embarrassing from Hamilton, the so called GOAT shouldn’t be getting spanked that much by a teammate who’s only been in the team two races.

    That’s why he will never be the best ever, too many weekends like this where he goes missing.

  13. So many apologies to each other here. Nice to see armchair warriors being polite.

  14. I think Lewis was very honest admitting he just could not improve, and apologising to the team over the radio.
    When he was surprised how far off Russell he was in the first sector alone, it reminded me of Schumacher when he was told Nico Rosberg just went .5 sec quicker in China.

  15. Judging Russell’s position the Mercs may not be that bad but Lewis seems to need a bit more time coming to grip with the new cars. Since he has spent an entire era winning everything in a particular car philosophy, that seems logical. He perfected handling that car. The young batch typically also race on simulators (beyond the teams sim I mean) and enjoy driving other cars & vehicles competitively. On top of that they had to fight their wobbly cars, nit being as smooth as the mercs were in their dominant era. And I dont recall Lewis driving anything else during time off.. in fact he only recently began driving the team simulator. Might be that the young batch is just adapting more quickly to changing circumstances.

  16. At this stage of the season, Hamilton usually out qualifies both Russell and Ocon. If Lewis and Toto didn’t try to swing for the fences, with a somewhat radically different set up, Lewis might of qualified as high as forth. Expect Lewis and Toto to use a set up, very similar to Russell’s. And then they’ll adjust it a little bit, during the race. My 2 cents

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