Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Why Hamilton believes “poor” Mercedes communication cost him shot at pole

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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The Mercedes drivers said a miscommunication led to Lewis Hamilton being delayed by his team mate at the end of today’s sprint race qualifying session.

Hamilton was unhappy after he started his final lap close behind his George Russell.

In the final minutes of the session Hamilton sat on provisional pole position. He moved over when Russell came by on his first true push lap, but Russell went off and abandoned his lap, leaving him with only one last run. With less than 90 seconds until the chequered flag, both Mercedes drivers were cautioned about being sure they reached the line before running out of time.

Hamilton overtook his team mate at Blanchimont reaching a queue of cars at the final chicane who all had to move aside for Sergio Perez on a push lap. In the melee, Russell moved by his team mate and begin his final lap with 14 seconds remaining.

Hamilton crossing the line just over a second later, meaning his lap was already likely to be negatively affected by his team mate ahead of him. At La Source, Russell locked up and ran wide, leaving Hamilton right on his tail.

“George went wide at turn one,” Hamilton reported, worried about being held up by his team mate. Hamilton slipstreamed his team mate up the hill and caught him at the Kemmel kink, having to lift slightly to avoid hitting Russell’s car before overtaking him, with Russell abandoning the lap.

Despite having to go onto the damp part of the track overtake his team mate, Hamilton set the second-quickest first sector of anyone in SQ3. However, running with a lower downforce set-up than many of his rivals, he lost well over a second to Max Verstappen and Oscar Piastri in the middle sector. Hamilton gained some time back in the final sector but could only manage seventh on the grid.

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Speaking after the session, Hamilton said he was “not happy” with his result after being sat on provisional pole earlier in SQ3.

“It was a really fun session and it was looking great at the end,” he said. “Obviously I had that lap which put me on first for that first lap I’d done and I knew I could go quicker.

“Honestly I reckon I could’ve been first or second in that session, on that last lap. It’s just communication was pretty poor. It was difficult to understand.

“We got to the last corner and there was seven cars, or whatever it was, trundling around. We were led to believe that we didn’t have any more time left, hence why we were pushing, but it turns out we have plenty of time. And then obviously with George… yeah. But this is the way it is.”

Asked to explain the incident with Russell at the start of his final lap, Hamilton chose not to discuss it. “It doesn’t really matter,” he said.

After qualifying tenth for the sprint race, Russell was frustrated with his own result from the session.

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“I don’t really know what to say,” he said on the radio in parc ferme. “That was a shitshow from start to finish – especially on my side.”

“I’m surprised I got to Q3 because of so many mistakes on my side,” he added after the session. “And then a bit of miscommunication at the end.

“I think we were stressing about the clock finishing – I think we had more time on the clock than we expected. I was too close to the car in front, Lewis was too close to me. Bad, bad, bad session.”

Russell says the problems for him and his team mate were caused by a misunderstanding of how much time was remaining at the end of the session.

“There was definitely more time on the clock than we foresaw, because I think Max was the last car to cross the line,” he explained. “I’m sure it was close for him, but it was just a total mess.

“This weekend’s really not going to plan. I hope we can make a bit of recovery and in the races. We’re definitely confident we’ll be quicker in the races, but so far single lap qualifying’s been rubbish.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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9 comments on “Why Hamilton believes “poor” Mercedes communication cost him shot at pole”

  1. So far this weekend Russell’s side of the garage really haven’t been able to be an equal part of the team, but I do think it’s right that both drivers talk about how the team as a whole needs to improve their communication because we have seen a few instances this year where there seemed to be needless clashes of clumsiness between the two cars/drivers.

  2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    29th July 2023, 15:03

    Reading the commentary above it looks like Russel messed up royally and so Hamilton caught him and got compromised regardless of communication. It also looks like earlier Russel messed up and so got out of sync.

  3. @bosyber Including the extremely dangerous crash in qualifying at Spain where a slower Russell wasn’t told about/didn’t see Hamilton coming past at the end of the straight.

  4. RUS has become a liability out there. He nor his side of the garage, think clearly under pressure. Mercedes is sliding toward becoming Ferrari and not in a good way.

  5. Ever since the upgrades to the Merc, Russell hasn’t been able to keep up with Lewis. Wonder if the characteristics of the new car go against what George is comfortable with.

    1. Yes mate get the excuses in nice and early.

      Maybe Lewis is the superior driver?

      Or perhaps your bigoted eyes won’t allow you to recognise that.

      1. My god, someone quite reasonably wants to discuss the car characteristics of the Mercedes car upgrades (on an F1 forum, go figure..), and within the space of 20 words he is labelled a bigot?

        1. The brigade never rests. They’re irrelevant now anyway. But reading them after the 2021 finale was the best fun we ever had here in f1fanatics/racefans

  6. The pressure has gotten to him.

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