Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

Hamilton calls qualifying “pretty poor” as Russell credits his data for pole

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton was at a loss to explain his performance on Saturday after leading the final practice session but only taking seventh on the grid.

However George Russell said studying his team mate’s data after final practice had been key to him taking pole position.

The Mercedes looked strong in the build-up to qualifying at the track. Hamilton comfortably headed the final practice session, lapping around four tenths of a second quicker than Max Verstappen and Russell.

The Mercedes pair headed Q2, Russell ahead of Hamilton, both lapping under 1’12. In Q3 neither replicated those times, but Russell’s 1’12.000 proved enough for pole position, six places ahead of Hamilton on a 1’12.280.

“The whole qualifying was pretty poor from my side,” Hamilton told Canal+ afterwards. “Just the car was not the same when I got into qualifying.”

However Hamilton said he was pleased with the progress Mercedes had showed with its first pole position since his at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

“The team’s doing a great job,” he said. “Everyone’s doing such a great job with developing the car and it’s great to see us have performance back on us again. Congrats to George, I’m sure he’ll do a good job tomorrow.”

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He admitted he was “looking forward to going home” after his disappointing result.

Russell said he studied Hamilton’s data closely after final practice to see where he could improve. “This weekend’s been really challenging because of the conditions yesterday,” he said. “You’ve had rain around all weekend and then this morning Lewis was absolutely flying and you know he was well ahead of me.

“I had to look a lot into his data to try and understand what he was doing differently. And to be honest, that helped me a huge amount.

“So ahead of this qualifying I’m just so glad that we could pull it off because I feel like we really deserve it for all of this hard work we’ve been putting in and the cars been feeling awesome this weekend.”

The pole winner said it had been “really challenging” to stay on top of the changing conditions at the track. “All weekend, every single session and every lap it’s been changing. The sun comes out, the track temperature warms up, then the clouds come in, it’s spitting.

“It’s just really, really difficult to find that sweet spot. My lap on the used tyre was really, really strong in Q3. And I was expecting to find about three or four tenths for the second lap on the new tyre. And it just didn’t click. But it was fortunate enough that the first lap was good enough for pole.”

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26 comments on “Hamilton calls qualifying “pretty poor” as Russell credits his data for pole”

  1. yea, hamilton has to stop playing the team game when his own team is making lawyer speak in regards to his own public concerns.

    hes playing the chump and its getting old.

  2. i expect that as the year goes on the car will be developed more and more towards what george wants as he’s the guy who’s staying.

    it’s like vettel at ferrari in 2020 where his performance massively dropped off compared to the prior year as the car started to move more towards what charles wanted which was something very different to what vettel liked a car to drive like.

    it’s just often what happens when a driver announced he’s leaving so early into a season. unless of course you happen to be in the title fight which kinda forces a team to keep developing the car around you if they want to win it.

    1. Yeah, except Seb isn’t half the driver Hamilton is and hadn’t looked great even before the car began developed toward Charles if indeed it even was.

      1. Yes, easy to forget that Vettel was dropped by Ferrari for performance reasons – his difficulties were apparent even before they made the call to replace him.

        1. Not really, Vettel was dropped before the 2020 season. In 2019 he and Leclerc were very evenly matched, and both won multiple races. Our would have, save for some questionable events in Canada and Russia.

          Binotto wanted his own team, and Vettel was very much past of the “old” Marchionne and Arrivabene team. So he pushed him out, only after which Vettel had a very mysteriously bad season.

          And we all know how well Binotto handled the next few years.

          1. Vettel only had one win in 2019, in Singapore, which probably should have been Leclerc’s but for a strategy call made in Vettel’s favour. He was robbed in Canada, but that was quite early on – his form had tailed off towards the end of the season.

          2. It wasn’t really ‘in favour’ of Vettel, the pace at the front was so slow that Vettel’s outlap took everyone – including Ferrari – by surprise. Vettel was also leading comfortably in Russia when Ferrari purposefully left him out so long that Leclerc, who stopped, was able to jump him. Leclerc insisted that was arranged before the race because the slipstream in Russia was so strong that he was unlikely to keep the lead from pole position. Whatever was true, Vettel was not pleased but then swiftly retired with a technical DNF which, ironically, helped both Mercedes jump Leclerc.

            Vettel’s form in 2019 was fairly constant. His average qualifying position in the second half of the season was even better than the first, especially if you take out the two outliers (both due to technical issues, in Austria and Germany). Race results were off by only a tiny bit in the second half, though if one exempts his poor Italian GP (which is obviously not a great idea for Ferrari driver, but hey) it was actually a bit better by similar small margins.

            Vettel and Leclerc would have been a great pair for 2020 and beyond, but Binotto pushed him out and then Vettel suddenly had an inexplicably poor 2020 season. Why? Who knows.

        2. He was robbed in Canada,

          He had a time penalty for an unsafe return to the track applied at the end of the race.

          That was an unsafe return after he, all on his own, ran wide, cut the chicane, steered across the track to eliminate the possible overtake and a collision with his competitor was only avoided by a sharp braking by said competitor.
          All picked up by the stewards from video and telemetry. Standard penalty applied.

          You could blame the competitor for applying so much pressure that Vettel made the mistake, but I think that’s something of a stretch.

  3. He was only 0.280s slower, nothing absurd, but the field is too compact on this track and this meant 6 cars between them.

    But given both went faster than the actual pole time on Q2, the potential was there for a 1-2.

    1. The point is the rest of the field improved on their second Q3 runs, when both George and Lewis did nadda. They changed from old tires to new, and according to Hamilton, had no grip. Im guessing Mercedes was quite content to sit on Russells provisional pole.

      Russell achieved his time helped by the Albon tow. Hamilton wasn’t as fortunate. What that looks like tomorrow is anyone’s guess.

      Lets hope the cars were tweaked between the first and second qualifying runs, from qualifying pace to race pace. With the cars in Parc Ferma it will be interesting to see if those cars set up for qualifying are as efficent when it comes to the actual race.

  4. Lets hope the cars were tweaked between the first and second qualifying runs, from qualifying pace to race pace. With the cars in Parc Ferma it will be interesting to see if those cars set up for qualifying are as efficent when it comes to the actual race.

    Oh come on. With parc ferme rules about the only thing that can change is front wing angle, and that can be changed before the race. Engine mode is set, suspension settings, camber, toe, springs, dampers, etc. are fixed as soon as qualy starts. Tire pressures are mandated by Pirelli. What are these possible magic changes that can be tweaked between the first and second runs?

    1. Yeah, that seems like a very thin straw to clutch at for hope.

  5. Unless there’s some missing context, I’m really surprised to hear Hamilton say he’s “looking forward to going home” before the race. He’s starting P7, but he’s in a car that is potentially as fast as any at this circuit and there’s the potential of safety cars that could bring him into contention. I wouldn’t write him off for a podium or even a win if things work out, so it’s a bit out of character for him to sound like he’s given up already.

    1. I agree he might win today. A well timed safety car could change things. McLaren, Ferrari, RedBull, Mercedes seems to be the order in terms of car performance in this stag of the championship. All to fight for. I am sure it is just a smoke screen from Lewis and he knows he has the car to do it.

  6. As i understand george had a massive tow in his first attempt. Nice timing if they planned this.
    Who gave him this tow?
    This weekend there was a real hypetrain about lewis. Was it the pressure he buckled under?

  7. An Sionnach
    9th June 2024, 9:58

    George got a slight tow on his pole lap… but had already done much better in Q2. Sounds like the tow Max got that didn’t help him get pole, but was widely misreported as having been the crucial factor. The speed was in both George and Lewis. Well done to George for just about doing it, and to Max for getting better than fifth. Ricciardo did well, too.

    If Lewis puts his head down he might find the qualifying performance will be water off a duck’s back. He used to have this knack of nullifying qualifying blips with his race pace, or being consistently fortunate with the timing of safety cars.

    Interesting from George that he learned from Lewis. That’s a good sign for his future. Lewis is supremely talented. Is he so talented that he hasn’t really had to sit down and study the data as much as those who are less gifted?

    Looks like all the guys back at the factory finally came through and they didn’t need the several thousand top engineers that Red Bull poached from them!

    Difficult to know where Alonso is in all of this. He’s put in so many big performances in the last couple of years, but I’m never sure what the car can actually do as he doesn’t have a good enough team mate. I feel Alonso’s qualifying can be lacking sometimes and sparkling (even dazzlingly so) other times. Speculation, but I reckon he did well here. It seems to be a circuit for drivers. This takes me to the especially poor performance of Zhou… and back to Lewis “safety car” Hamilton: can Zhou not crash in the race?!? If someone is going to get a jammy safety car victory he doesn’t deserve, none would deserve it more than Piastri. The fact that he didn’t beat Lando in qualifying this time would make it that much more delicious!

    1. That’s why it’s quite amusing to hear the ‘washed up Lewis’ comments. As Peter Windsor always says, look who nails the track the first time round at any weekend and you’ll get an idea of the naturally talented. The rest do catch up with data, copying and engineering tweaks until they neutralise that advantage. Throw in some unpredictable factors and the gaps open again.
      Even so, I find this regular difference between Hamilton’s pace over practice sessions (and in the race) versus qualifying somewhere between puzzling and troublesome. I don’t think his comment that he didn’t expect to qualify ahead of George again this season was a throwaway excuse. He clearly has the talent, pace and experience still. There’s something else in this.

      1. An Sionnach
        9th June 2024, 12:21

        I don’t know. Lewis says a lot of things. Unless the support isn’t there from the team and it’s a bit like Prost at McLaren? As talented as Lewis is, being numero uno with the team helps a lot. Even Fangio talked about it being very important to keep the mechanics happy and he joked that he may have even been given a team mate’s car when he wasn’t happy with his on one occasion! Considering his age, Lewis is still phenomenal. How would a Lewis of Max’s age do against Max? With Max here, his fluctuating motivation causes him more trouble. He needs to put in more work, perhaps? I think that may be the curse of the supremely talented. Prost just about got the better of Senna on average, but when a phenomenon like Schumacher came along – someone who could match him for speed, talent and aggression, but who had the attention to detail of Prost… Senna didn’t seem to know what to do.

        I don’t think you can seriously say that Lewis has had his day. My guess is that his statement about the qualifying is to get people to shut up about it. George is a qualifying specialist. I would guess that if Lewis qualifies just behind George in every race, he will finish ahead of him in more of them on average. One of the more terrifying moments for a Max fan in the last few years was in Texas last year when Lewis was hunting him down. Yes, he got disqualified, but the sheer unrelenting pace and inevitability of a pass if he got close enough did not make for comfortable viewing. Drivers (Max and Schumacher excluded!) have their strengths and weaknesses, but race pace is supreme. If you’ve got that, you can make mistakes and sort it all out in the race. Perhaps Lewis is a little more like Prost than Senna in this regard. What was it that was said about Prost? Be wary of him if he is matching his qualifying time in the morning warm up. Not the same as this situation, as, while Prost would set up for the race, Lewis did fluff his lines a bit on this occasion.

        1. I think Ham still has the best race pace of anyone on the grid, but has lost a tenth or two of ultimate qualifying pace when compared to his younger days. It would make sense to me that extracting ultimate performance is the thing that age starts to have an effect on first, and as you say, “Mr Saturday” is a qualifying specialist.

          George strikes me as a (significantly) better version of Bottas. Fast in qualifying, but typically not quite as good as the very best on race pace (but still good). At one point, Ham was supreme at both elements, but is now a lot more hold and cold in qualifying.

          1. An Sionnach
            9th June 2024, 22:59

            George is certainly lacking a lot in the races. Ultimate race pace? I would guess that it would be Max, although it would be nice to see the pair of them go up against prime Schumacher and Prost.

      2. Can it be that Mercedes are hurt after Hamilton made these comments when signing new deal in 2023

        “We have never been hungrier to win. We have learnt from every success but also every setback. We continue to chase our dreams, we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again.

        “I’m grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track. Our story isn’t finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won’t stop until we do.”

        only to betray them and leave for Ferrari half a year later, before even driving the 2024 car? I know I would be asbolutely furious when somebody lies like that to me.

      3. While your Lewis bias is pretty extreme, the copying data thing is true and a big thing. It’s why I hate so much practice. It allows the mediocre drivers to look much better than they are by essentially just using their teammates’ data to figure out how to drive a fast lap. It’s why I love weekends where practice yields essentially zero useful data for quali and the race.

        1. An Sionnach
          9th June 2024, 22:57

          Really? It’s part of racing to set up the car. The truly great drivers are also capable of learning and going beyond what their initial feel is. Look at Zhou. No amount of practice would have helped him, while the better drivers would keep on finding ways to improve.

  8. Where did those 3 tenths go? They did not show it on TV. Was is a particular mistake somewhere in the circuit or general incompetence?

    1. Where did those 3 tenths go? They did not show it on TV.

      I saw a replay of him running through the chicane where it looked like he was driving on grease, that would account for some/all of the 3 tenths.

  9. Lewis checked out of this season during testing. Don’t read into what’s happening now imo

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