Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Frustrated Hamilton felt “like I was in a different category” in fast corners

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton said there was no way he could compete with his rivals through Jeddah’s fastest corners in today’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver finished ninth, one place lower than he qualified. He said the W15 was no match for the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren on the fastest parts of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“The car is relatively good in the low-speed and not so bad in the medium,” he told Sky after the race. “But in the high-speed we are miles off.

“It was like I was in a different category when I was going through the high-speed between the other people, the other guys around me.”

Mercedes went into the new season hoping to rebound from two disappointing years using an extensively revised car. But Hamilton said some of the problems he is experiencing feel familiar and he isn’t convinced the team has gone far enough with its latest design.

“It’s frustrating, for sure, to be three years in a row in almost the same position. It’s definitely tough.

“I know we’ll get our heads down and we’ll keep working away. I know everyone back at the factory is pushing as hard as they can. But we’ve definitely got to make some big changes.

“We haven’t made big enough changes, perhaps. You look at the three teams ahead of us, they still have different concepts to where we are in some areas. So we’ve got some performance to add, that’s for sure.”

Hamilton briefly ran as high as third when the team opted not to bring him into the pits during an early Safety Car period. Although the tactics did not pay off, he defended Mercedes’ call.

“I think it was worth trying something different. Splitting the cars and trying different strategies and ultimately that’s always the goal, to do something a little bit different, particularly when we’re in the position we’re in.

“I was fighting as hard as I could to go long, and I was hoping for a Safety Car or something, but it was just unfortunate that nothing came out.”

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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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32 comments on “Frustrated Hamilton felt “like I was in a different category” in fast corners”

  1. “and that’s why I’m leaving” he added

    1. Hahaha. So true. Thanks for making me laugh!

  2. Well Lewis you were in separate category all these years

    1. 14-16, yes. The rest, no.

      1. Don’t bother. People like the parent are convinced that Lewis Hamilton has never won a race fairly in his life.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    9th March 2024, 23:28

    I called it last week about the McLarens and Mercedes – the whole race turned out to be one Mercedes blocking a McLaren or vice versa.

    1. Alonso puts thus in less word

      GP2 car

    2. @freelittlebirds The article could also be titled, “Frustrated Piastri felt “like I was in a different category” in slow corners and on the straight”

      More than one way to skin a cat, downforce or top speed.

      There was a graphic displayed when Piastri was trying to get past Lewis showing +/- in each part of the track as the gap went between .3 and 1.5 each lap. I think Mclaren had the faster setup but no way of getting past; the commentary team said Piastri only had a 6kmh advantage using DRS behind Hamilton.

  4. Welcome, to life without a dominant rocket ship. Max will be whining up a storm too once Newey retires. That said, Hamilton looked much more like his regular self today. He drove well.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th March 2024, 2:05

      He’s referring to Norris pulling away outside DRS over a few corners – it was really amazing how the Mercedes couldn’t stay with it as the commentators pointed out. Generally speaking corners have always an issue for Mercs and cars would pull away even in what you called the dominant rocket ship era.

      2021 was actually extremely complicated for Mercedes cars as they couldn’t deal with McLarens or Ferraris and required extremely delicate and risky overtakes.

  5. Mercedes is in the post Sir Alex Man Utd era, where they expect they have a right to win, but the reality is they are just above mid table mediocrity. If further management leaves with Lewis they will drop further. Max would be crazy to move there.

    1. And where and how do u come to that conclusion in any competitive sport especially f1 there’s no team that feels its their right to win. Maybe that they deserve to win but not that it’s their right.

  6. Casual F1 Watcher
    10th March 2024, 4:26


    1. 7 championships most wins most pole a whole lot of other records… almost 2nd in driver championship 2023 and you say he washed… lol.

    2. boo rain.

  7. To me it looked mostly due to setup. Mercedes wanted a car that was quick on the straights, which it had, and they sacrificed downforce that they needed in the first sector. McLaren went the opposite direction, setting up a car for optimal lap time and therefore the first sector, but very draggy on the straights, which is why Piastri could not get by Hamilton despite having more pace.

    Of course Hamilton is not wrong that other teams are still ahead. Red Bull, and to a lesser extent Ferrari, could be quick on the straights while still having a good first sector.

  8. the cars are not diverse enough, that said loved watching HAM hold back Piastri for most of the race. as for why merc cannot innovate outside their problem, is probably because they are letting RBR win for political reasons. if merc really wanted to win they wouldnt be tollerating such lack of progress.

  9. 2024 Mercedes is Hamilton’s masterpiece, the car he was working on last 2 years:

    “Obviously with Lewis’ experience, the car has been designed around his wishes with the car being sat further rearwards than we were last year, the Red Bull-esque sidepods on the side and a slightly different steering rack.

    He can only blame himself for its shortcomings.

  10. It was baffling to see Norris put 0.8 into Hamilton in just four corners. But it had to have something to do with tire temps other than just car handling, because it wasnt as big of a margine always.

  11. Interesting to see whether Lewis becomes an Alonso or a Vettel.

    1. Becoming an ‘Alonso’ you mean shouting on the radio to the world that his engine is that of a lower formulae ?

    2. Probably HAM is more like VET but not as bad. HAM has lost some skill and doesn’t have a top tier car. VET was worse in the sense he had a strong car for a couple of years at Ferrari that were championship worthy but through a litany of his own errors lost the WDC to HAM.

      ALO made bad decisions for most of his career which deprived him of getting a great car. Ferrari was a good car but not championship worthy although if not for bad pit strategy on the final race in 2012 he would have won the WDC. It can be argued his driving skills are as good or better now due to the insane amount of time he has spent in various types of race craft.

      1. ALO made bad decisions for most of his career which deprived him of getting a great car.

        Alonso had a great car in 2007 and 2010, and a good enough car in 2012 (helped by a very weird season). He couldn’t deliver then either. For some reason Alonso gets a huge pass for his many errors and lackluster races in 2010, I guess a lot of the media was focused on Hamilton and Button also being in the title race.

        Vettel basically had no chance in 2017. The car was only really great on super twisty tracks. Hamilton and Mercedes had a scruffy start to the season, exaggerating the improvements Ferrari had made. In 2018 it was closer, but Ferrari pursued a bad upgrade path that got to the point they actually had to take “months worth of upgrades”, their quote, off. Arrivabene also mishandled Räikkönen, causing problems in Germany and Italy in particular. Vettel also, and more often than Hamilton, had to content with a reckless Verstappen who was taking huge risks at every available opportunity. Hamilton finished that season almost a 100 points clear; it wasn’t really as close as some suggest. While Vettel had his weak moments, the list of people who could have done meaningfully better is probably quite short. You’re basically looking at Schumacher-like efforts like in 1997/1998.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        10th March 2024, 15:20

        We’ll see – last week Hamilton wasn’t involved in racing and there was nothing to watch. This week could have been amazing if the tyre strategy panned out but it didn’t.

        Alonso is definitely thriving at Aston Martin much more than he did at Alpine against Ocon so it looks good. If he were still in Alpine, it probably wouldn’t look as good.

        Obviously there’s a mental side to the sport and Hamilton is hitting that one hard with the stolen championship in 2021 and the subsequent 3 seasons. It’s definitely gotta be hard not having a car that’s competitive, let alone to his liking. He’s practically gone 2 seasons without a win and I think the team has made strange decisions when he had chances or the pace to fight for a win. Now a victory this season seems as likely as winning the lottery.

        Qualifying is so tight this season that a tenth or two in Mercedes’ category is 5 spots on the grid and overtaking depends more on the tyre and time you try to overtake than the car itself.

        1. It’s hard to overtake in F1 and that must be considered when choosing the level of Qualifying vs Race compromise. A driver of the caliber of Lewis Hamilton I’m sure is capable of extracting 3 extra tenths from the car, that should put him right there in second row with either Perez or Leclerc.
          The first 2 weekends were typical Hamilton off weekends. I’m sure next race he will show up for the event on top of his game.

  12. It was set up. Pure and simple. Compare the rear wings of the Norris/Piastri and Hamilton. Merc went low downforce and suffered in the high speed corners. McLaren wet for higher downforce and couldn’t pass Hamilton on the straight even with DRS unless they were tucked up under his rear wing coming out of the final corner.

  13. After testing Mercedes told everyone they were second fastest to Red Bull only while no one else saw them that quick. Then they were hiding behind their cooling problems in Bahrain while pointing out their Thursday pace was real, which they only failed to replicate for the rest of the weekend. Although even without any issues they’d been quite a bit slower than Ferrari that didn’t even have a good race day.
    After Saudi Arabia qualifying theiy said their drivers didn’t maximize the car’s potential. Now they were really far off in the race too. Let’s hope they won’t say: “We were held up by Alonso the whole race otherwise we’d been fighting Perez”.
    Because imho their car is not as good as they think it is and it’s about time Mercedes realize it. Otherwise it’d be delusional and probably not the way forward.

  14. Welcome to the Dotage category

  15. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    10th March 2024, 17:14

    Norris rocketed away from Lewis in that section, it was unbelievable how much he’d pull away in a few corners.

  16. “We haven’t made big enough changes, perhaps. You look at the three teams ahead of us, they still have different concepts to where we are in some areas. So we’ve got some performance to add, that’s for sure.”

    LOL at Hamilton’s mentality. Just because others are doing it differently doesn’t mean that you are doing it wrong. Besides, maybe Merc was just right with their development direction and Lewis shouldn’t have thrown a tantrum at the press during every interview on how the team is not listening to his holy inputs. Maybe it was Hamilton’s inputs that put them off the rails.

  17. Formula 1 – less and less enticing with every race.

  18. George did alright, Lewis.

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