Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2024

Russell “doing a better job” Hamilton admits after Q2 elimination

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton admitted he isn’t getting as much out of Mercedes’ car as his team mate after being knocked out in the second round of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

It is the third weekend in a row Hamilton has been out-qualified by George Russell.

“I don’t know if I’m dealing with that great,” he told the official F1 channel. “I mean, less consistent than George.

“George is doing a better job with our car, three qualifyings in a row that he’s out-qualified me. He just seems to get on a lot better than I do.

“I’m just trying to keep my head above water and just continue to realise how it could be way worse.”

Yesterday Hamilton said he had never felt less confident in the W15 than he does this weekend. He said the car felt better in final practice but became unsettled as the conditions changed.

“It felt great in P3,” he told Sky. “It was strange because we were right there with these guys and we didn’t really understand why.

“But then going into qualifying just the inconsistency within the car really messes with the mind. But George did a good job today. It is what it is. I just have to try and do a better job tomorrow.”

He described the car’s handling as being “on a bit of a knife-edge.”

“In the afternoon here, the wind picks up. It’s the same as P2: P1 was a bit better and then when the wind picks up, the car becomes a lot more unstable. This morning was nice with the calmer wind and then as soon as the wind picks up it gets a little bit stable.

“But the others seem to be able to pick their pace up in qualifying. I’m not sure why it didn’t feel the same in qualifying, even though we had a lighter fuel [load], it felt better in P3. So it’s not a great feeling for everyone on the team, but we’ll just keep working away.”

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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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53 comments on “Russell “doing a better job” Hamilton admits after Q2 elimination”

  1. It’s really strange because 2024 “amazing” Mercedes has been designed by Hamilton, so to see him losing 0-3 to Russell is a shock.

    1. I bet in this case some fans will not say the car is developed around him. That only goes for Max ;-). Probably the car is now developed around George..

      1. George has probably been more of the reason for Mercedes woes since 2021. That and Mercedes staff believe in data and not design philosophy or engineering systems. Too much political correctness, too much favoritism.

        George spends time on Toto’s couch for a reason.

        1. @pcxmac
          Most stupid false news I’ve read

          1. George loves looking at Toto’s message log too.

    2. I’ve just watched F1 on Channel 4. Alice Powell said it was confirmed in Bahrain that the car is built around George because Lewis is leaving the team. Understandable considering George is Merc’s future

      1. Sorry but that is just false. Hamiltons transfer to Ferrari was only agreed on very recently and the car was developed many months prior to that.

        The car is not the problem here.

        Curiously, Hamilton admits this himself yet there’s people who can’t even process that.

        1. Even then it’s not like he’s miles behind russell, but I guess one would expect him to be a bit faster, like last seasons.

        2. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the final stages of the car’s production were worked around George’s driving style. I suspect the moment there was any hint of Lewis’s Ferrari deal, work started to bring the concept closer to George’s setup.

    3. Teams make the car as fast as they can, taking into consideration – but not being guided by – the feedback of the previous years. Countless designers have said this time and again, yet the media still propagates the idea that a car is ‘built for driver A or B’. That doesn’t happen.

      Drivers also tend to have a flair for the dramatic. If the steering wheel is 5 centimeters closer to the front suspension, they’ll say it’s like driving a forklift, and if the tyres lose a bit of performance they’ll say they have ‘no grip’. Engineers look at the numbers, both from the track and the virtual tests and primarily work with that.

  2. Hamilton is done. He doesn’t have the fire anymore. He’s getting destroyed by Russell and next year he will get destroyed by Leclerc. Ferrari should had kept Sainz.

    1. +1 based on this season you could say Ferrari should have kept Sainz rather than Leclerc too.

      Mercedes must be so happy. They’ve got rid of Hamilton and have the chance of upgrading him with a pick of drivers while their closest rival for the last few years gets stuck with him!

      Nice for Hamilton to end his career at Ferrari, sad it’ll be only a year because there’s no way he makes 2026 with this form.

      1. You know drivers can perform differently at different teams? Frentzen horrible williams 1997 year, great 1999 jordan year, vettel was good in his red bull years, then a disaster in 2020 at ferrari and also not so good the previous years, ricciardo was good at red bull, then bad at mclaren, etc.

    2. Hamilton and Russell have been back and forth for the last two years. Last year started with Russell ahead as well – it wasn’t until the car improved dramatically and also fit better with Hamilton’s natural driving style that things swung towards Hamilton.

      This is another period when Russell is ahead again, but Hamilton’s performance doesn’t look too different to large patches of 2022, or early 2023. The car came to Hamilton then, and it might come back again this year as well.

      As for Hamilton vs Leclerc – Leclerc has made mistakes himself this season; I’d say his quali performance was as bad as Hamilton’s, he just did it in a quicker car, and made his mistake in Q3 rather than Q2.

      1. Difference this year is Hamilton is leaving so instead of spending all year trying to change the car so it suits Lewis, they’ll build on what they currently have. I’d expect the gap to grow if anything – specially once they start developing parts they don’t want Lewis to know much about.

    3. It doesnt matter to Ferrari if Hamilton loses to Leclerc. Hamilton + Ferrari means BIG business, and will boost company value and sales massively.

      Thats why Elkann basically gave Lewis a blank cheque, coz the value the biggest driver in F1 brings to Ferrari is worth every cent.

      I’m not saying he’s washed, just that the deal is mutually beneficial regardless of track outcome. Add to that Mercedes is not on the same positive trajectory with their car as Ferrari, so Lewis will still likely do better there than in a Merc

      1. I agree with that. It is from financial and marketing perspective a good move for all involved. Racing wise it won’t bring them much. Lewis will need a championship winning car to shine again and compensate for his ageing. Once Ferrari has that car, Leclerc can take the crown easily as well – they didn’t need to hire Lewis for that.

      2. Lewis will beat Leclerc like Sainz is beating Leclerc. In fact probably more handily. Leclerc is the #1, and Sainz can still beat him over a season. That should tell you all you need to know.

    4. Ferrari should have definitely kept Sainz, for sure. But I do not think Lewis is done. He is a gifted driver, but just a bit slow season starter and subject to motivational swings. He will bounce back once he sets his mind to it. But in all fairness his best days are probably behind him. He had a lot of those, so no reason to be dissatisfied.

      1. Surely he didn’t show a lot after he stopped having a dominant car, I would be dissatisfied if I were him, I’d definitely want to win some more races.

      2. Ferrari should have definitely kept Sainz, for sure.

        Why? Aside from all the marketing benefit of having Hamilton in red, Sainz’ main claim to fame is keeping up with Leclerc more often than is comfortable for Ferrari’s #1 hire, to the point of almost outscoring him 2:1. That’s nice for Sainz, but it’s more of a problem for Leclerc than a reason to keep Sainz. I like Leclerc, he has some of the coolest qualifying laps in recent F1 history, but he hasn’t exactly grown all that much in the last five (!) years he’s been at Ferrari.

        Hamilton is undoubtedly an upgrade over Sainz.

        1. Undoubtedly? I’m also having no doubts about Sainz being better than both Hamilton and Russel, and at least on par with Leclerc overall.
          Just kidding, I always have some doubts. Don’t be so certain about your own subjective opinions. I meant what I said above, but that’s all relative in the end.
          To be honest, Verstappen was far more impressive even as young kid, driving slow Torro Rosso and then not much better Red Bull, than Hamilton is when his car is not the very best. Hamilton is not some alien driver with superpowers.

        2. Only for the brigade and their unreal Universe. Carlos Sainz is years light ahead of that rheumatic turtle

    5. Every season hamilton has had a slow start, people have jumped on the “hamilton is done” line.

      I think Eccelstone once said Hamilton is washed up and not performing, and the guy won two more championships.

      We are, what…..three races in……and watching two drivers struggle with a car that has poor handling characteristics. One of those drivers came third in the championship last year in a car vastly inferior to those in the first two positions.

      I thought football fans were fickle but, blimey, sometimes F1 fans really can’t help themselves.

      Is he underperforming after 3 races….yes.
      Is George that much further ahead…..no
      Could it be due to the fact that Merc are back to ground zero with this concept…..yes

      Let’s just wait more than 3 races (we’ve only had 2 at this point) before writing off a driver.

      It really is laughable.

  3. In other news the sky is blue and grass is green. Obvious comments from Hamilton who now has to be honest after the excuses have ran out.

    He’s been completely humiliated by Russell at the last 7 events now. Russell has been up in the top 3 while Hamilton scrambles to make Q3.

    Either he’s lost his motivation or he’s done. Everything I’ve seen from Hamilton makes me think it’s the latter. He’s never been the same since 2021.

    1. Its more accurate to say Merc have never been the same since the 2022 rule change.

      1. Indeed, this person definitely puts too much emphasis on the driver when f1 is 85% car.

    2. I think part of the motivation is them all working together as a team – him, Toto, his engineers etc.. Since he’s decided to leave Mercedes, that motivation isn’t the same. He looks like he’s just seeing out his contract before he can move. The question now is whether he can recapture his form once he’s at Ferrari and he has something to fight for again.

  4. W (@vishnusxdx)
    23rd March 2024, 9:26

    Average qualiy difference between Hamilton and Russel this year is 0.142 seconds. It is not that different from last year. In the races Hamilton is on average .4 seconds a lap faster than Russell.

    His qualiy is hindering his results so far, but there is nothing that is indicating that Hamilton is “washed” of “dialed out”. He will find his groove sooner or later and then, for the third time in as many years, these exaggerated comments will seem silly again.

    1. 0.4s per lap faster than Russel on average seems exaggerated. Are you sure that this number is correct?

      1. Do the research – rather than expecting others to do it for you. @vishnusxd statement has much more credence than someone questioning it without any basis applied.

        1. You don’t have to do any research to see that’s just impossible.
          He started and finished behind Russell twice, so it’s mathematically impossible that he was 0.4 of a second faster. Otherwise he would have ended up some 20 seconds in front of his teammate.
          However I agree that they are very close and Hamilton is losing his races primarily on Saturdays while still having a slight edge over a full race distance.

  5. A good driver should be able to adapt to sub-par conditions and get the best out of every car. Putting yourself in front of your teammate is step one. Ricciardo doesn’t make a good impression if the is not to his liking. Maybe we see the same happening with Hamilton now?

    1. I agree. No matter the material some drivers should are expected to -and should at bare minimum- leave their team mate well behind them.

  6. At what point do we admit:

    Russell is now a better driver than Hamilton?

    1. If he can beat Hamilton this year without having massive swings of luck one way or the other.

      The thing with Russell is since mid last year he has had a clear edge on Hamilton but he also had races like Canada, Singapore and Australia where his skill issues and/or car issues showed up which meant he lost to Hamilton.

      Last year there were also races where Hamilton was outperformed like Silverstone but still managed a podium because Russell got unlucky, the opposite of 2022.

      In their first two years, Hamilton had the edge but both of them dropped stinkers. This year looks more decisive so far, but the season is 24 races long and we are only 1/8th into it. I still think Russell has taken that additional step and will beat Hamilton though but then Hamilton usually only tends to drive well during the middle of the season, and grows in strength from thereon.

      Suzuka hasn’t been Russell’s strong point last couple of years, so I expect Lewis to have an edge there whereas Russell did outqualify Hamilton at the first three tracks in the last couple of years at least once.

      1. It doesn’t matter, Lewis will actually be able to win races next year. And poor Russell who has been the favor of the team since 2022, will still be mid pack, just like Jenson Button and Macca. Its written in stone bruh, get ready to swallow.

        1. You’ve got something personal against the lad, judging by your comments here. But if he was being such a personal favourite, he wouldn’t spend three years in the worst ever Williams, while Bottas was having his contracts extended year after year.
          P.S. I don’t even like Russel, but I don’t know what’s your issue with him…

  7. Lewis always seems to take a few races to get the car in hand.
    I think he ended 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023 much better than he started the year.
    ‘t might be a feeling I’ve got, I haven’t done the maths or looked at the data.
    And if I’m right here, it’s too soon to write off Lewis’s season

    1. Yes, he usually bounces back although this is a deviating year in which he will leave the team, so might not find the motivation this time around. Interesting to see what Ferrari will do should that happen. I think they will maintain their plan as the move was imho more marketing and financially inspired. If you have a Leclerc and a Sainz there is no immediate need to improve the driver output in the equation.

  8. Lewis always starts poorly, big shock….he will be fine.

    1. Yes, but why does he start slow everytime?

      1. It’s just his thing. Drivers aren’t perfect. Schumacher for example had some real goofs late in the season.

  9. Lewis needs to focus on preparation and setup. His driving in the races looks good, and I think the qualifying difference may be more to do with setup. How is George preparing and setting his car up?

    1. I also think that the difference has to do with mindset. Lewis with his experience and achievements is probably not willing to take as many risks if the car is difficult to drive. George being younger and hungrier is just going for it and motivating himself to beat the most successful driver of all time. Schumacher in his 3 year stint at Mercedes was nothing like his old self and Rosberg beat him consistently. Different phases in their careers, different mindset.

      I think Hamilton should stop trying to work for the team, stop with the setup experiments, and just focus on being fast. He loses precious time optimising his performance by trying other setup directions. Let George waste time doing that. I think it is good that they part ways, because since Abu Dhabi 2021, their success has worn out and the relationship is not the same. The magic is not there anymore. Bold move going to Ferrari. It makes everyone smile.

      1. Correction: he loses precious time for optimising his performance, by trying other setup directions.

      2. I think Hamilton should stop trying to work for the team, stop with the setup experiments

        He doesn’t do that ‘for the team’, he does it for himself (and fair play). Experimenting with setups is a calculated risk, it either pays off or doesn’t, no need to turn it into a self-sacrifice narrative.

        1. I’m glad he’s going to Ferrari. Good on him for rolling the dice one more time. I don’t believe the “trying experimental setups” story. It’s not as if George hasn’t been trying different setups over the last couple of years. Some of those didn’t go so well either, or his occasional, risky race strategies.

          I don’t know about Lewis’ outlook. You may be right. My gut feeling is that himself and Alonso are different. They did not retire for good like Schumacher did and then try to come back. Lewis is different again to Alonso. A little younger, obviously, but this is his eighteenth season in F1 without any years off. Lewis isn’t alone in offering an excuse in interviews when trying to understand what happened. Many drivers struggle to explain when things don’t go as expected. I think it has been the case the Lewis has struggled with setup on occasion. I think his skill level is higher than George’s, even though he’s significantly older. That means that George has to try harder at everything else. Again, I could be wrong. Seeing him in action against Leclerc should be good. It will also be good to see George against someone else, particularly if they get someone good.

  10. He is putting Russell over.

  11. RUS is definitely better than HAM but the real story is that the car is just a pile of junk. They are the 5th best car down from 2nd last year. They may finish 4th as STR is a weak driver but the AM has better aero than the Silver Barrow (as in wheel barrow).

    1. Based on what? Hamilton wiped the floor with Russel last year (excluding a lost 18 points on a nonsense disqualification).

      How exactly is “RUS definitely better than HAM”?

      Please fill us in.

      1. The article is comparing the 2 drivers for this season not last season or all time.

        Lewis Hamilton admitted he isn’t getting as much out of Mercedes’ car as his team mate after being knocked out in the second round of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

        It is the third weekend in a row Hamilton has been out-qualified by George Russell.
        “I don’t know if I’m dealing with that great,” he told the official F1 channel. “I mean, less consistent than George.

        “George is doing a better job with our car, three qualifyings in a row that he’s out-qualified me. He just seems to get on a lot better than I do.

  12. Mercedes has no reason to care too much about Hamilton anymore.

    Its going to be a long and strange season for him. And Russell isnt even that fast. The car is weak but its too early for them to say that.

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