Hamilton explains shock Miami grid slot
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 7th May, 2023 - 12:21pm
Lewis Hamilton believes a late call to send him out on track cost him the opportunity to claim a top-10 grid slot for the Miami Grand Prix.
In a car labelled “a nasty piece of work” by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, it was touch and go any way whether Hamilton would have made it into Q3.
The upshot was that Hamilton got caught up in traffic, which compromised his final run, and has left him with a fight on his hands to score a handful of points given the lack of pace with the W14.
“It started out okay,” said Hamilton of his qualifying performance around the Miami International Autodrome where track evolution was high. “There were a couple of decent moments throughout the session.
“But we struggled to have the pace to get into Q3, and then right at the end of the session, we went out too late.
“I was right at the back of many cars, and I started my lap with not enough temperature in the tyres.
“We knew it was very hard and there was a 50-50 chance we could get into Q3, so we need to be better with our timing.”
Mercedes lacking “everywhere” – Hamilton
The seven-time F1 champion concedes he is now “hoping for the heavens to open” for the race to at least provide him with a fighting chance of a strong result.
Hamilton, however, has bemoaned a shortened DRS for the track – with the two zones trimmed by 75 metres apiece – which he knows will not aid his cause.
Allied with that is the fact the car lacks the downforce to contend.
“I think I’ve set the car up in a fairly decent place,” said Hamilton. “It’s not going to be easy to overtake the cars ahead of me, but maybe with strategy I can progress, and try and get into the top 10 to at least get some points.
“Ultimately, though, we’re not where we want to be. I wish we had a car that could contend for wins, but it’s tough for us.”
As to where the car is lacking at this track, he added: “Everywhere!
“If you look at the Red Bull, for example, they can use a small rear wing and they are fast through the straights and fast through the corners.
“Whereas for us, we need a bigger wing to get anywhere near them through those corners. We’re just lacking rear downforce mostly.”
Russell has got “slower and slower”
Team-mate George Russell starts sixth thanks to a slice of good fortune as Charles Leclerc brought out the red flags late in Q3 with a crash that ensured there was not the time for leading players such as Max Verstappen to set a time.
Russell, who only just scraped into Q3 by 0.052s ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon, was left bemused by where the pace in his car had disappeared to after topping first practice on Friday.
“The car is not working for us this weekend,” said Russell. “We’re struggling a lot with the balance, and it’s bouncing around a little bit, which I guess a lot of teams thought was a thing of the past but is seemingly apparent for a number of cars.
“Just performance isn’t coming to us. It’s a real shame because everybody’s working so hard to achieve it.
“I just don’t know what’s going on with this track for us, to be honest, because I was feeling good in FP1.
“But as the grip got laid down, and the track improved, we have seemingly just got slower and slower.
“Everybody’s working so hard to turn this around, and we’ve yet to bring any major upgrades to the car, but we know we’ve got a hell of a challenge on our hands.
“Everybody’s working their asses off to achieve it. This is a unique one. It’s a bit of an outlier this circuit.”
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