Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Mercedes’ car still “doesn’t like” being pushed to the limit – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes still have more to do to compete with their rivals in qualifying after falling short of the front row in Spain.

His team mate George Russell took pole position two weeks ago at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve which has mostly slow and short corners. Around the longer, faster corners of the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend the Mercedes drivers qualified on the second row, three-tenths of a second off the pace.

Hamilton believes the team need to focus on mastering how their tyres perform in order for the drivers to get the most out of the W15 in qualifying trim.

“I still lost a little bit [of performance] going into quali,” he said. “It’s all about perspective, maybe they just moved forwards, but I definitely feel like there was a little bit more.

“But just as you start to push the car, it doesn’t like it. So in practice, when you leave a little bit of margin, the car feels quite nice. But it’s when you start to really lean on it to try and get that extra bit of lap time out where we really struggle.

“I think it’s all in the tyres. You saw in [Q1] I was seven tenths down due to an issue with the [tyre] blankets. And then we got it sorted for the following sessions. So it puts you a little bit on the back foot.

“But otherwise the car, as I said, it’s good that we’re up here and it’s the best qualifying I’ve had this year, so I’m really grateful for it.”

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Hamilton’s third place is the first time he has qualified in the top three for a grand prix this season. “It’s good to be back up here,” he said in the press conference afterwards. “I miss being on this sofa, although it’s not from Ikea.

“But generally, it’s great to see that we’re progressing. Really, you’ve seen over the last couple of races that we’re slowly climbing closer to the guys up front. So I think there’s a little bit more performance in the car today.

“But it’s really on the knife-edge, so we’ve got some improvements to make to the car. But I’m really happy to be P3, it is a pretty good spot to be in for the start with that long straight down to turn one.”

He said the team’s deficit to pole-winner Lando Norris was “a pretty big chunk” but “for a track like this, it’s not too bad.”

“Through the lap, there’s a little bit of time [lost], I think. It probably could have been two tenths, but still they have a slight advantage.

“But for us to be that close on the track like this is a real good showing that we’re going in the right direction. We’ve got some improvements that we need to bring over the next few races in order for us to be properly in range of those guys.”

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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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4 comments on “Mercedes’ car still “doesn’t like” being pushed to the limit – Hamilton”

  1. Great Lap from Lewis today. I think when one looks at Hamilton’s onboards, its quite clear that the car bites when he leans on it a bit. His style of late braking and sharp turn in means that he needs a car with excellent balance that varies between rear stability and precision frontend for different corbering characteristics.
    I actually really feel that Russell has done well in earlier qualifying sessions by not leaning into the car too much and aiming for lower entry speed and earlier apex.

  2. Multimillionaire prefers IKEA sofas. Or does he have a deal with them lol.

    1. i think he’s just a silly billy.

    2. Clearly he was alluding to the fact that if he went flat pack everywhere he’d have screwed it up.

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