Lewis Hamilton: ‘Miserable feeling’ not to be ‘connected’ to car as struggles continue in Saudi Arabia6 min read
Lewis Hamilton was left disappointed after Qualifying eighth for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix; Hamilton finished four places behind team-mate George Russell in Jeddah; Watch the Saudi Arabian GP live on Sunday from 3:30pm on Sky Sports F1
Last Updated: 18/03/23 9:53pm
Lewis Hamilton described his lack of connection with his Mercedes car as “miserable” after struggling to eighth in qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who will start Sunday’s race in seventh due to Charles Leclerc facing a grid penalty, ended Saturday’s session more than three tenths behind his team-mate George Russell, who will start third after also gaining a place as a result of the Ferrari driver’s demotion.
After a disappointing start to the 2023 season in Bahrain earlier in March Hamilton was critical of his team for failing to have listened to him in the development of the car, and admitted on Saturday he is finding it “tough” despite giving “everything” for the team.
“I feel like I struggled with the car in the high speed particularly,” Hamilton said. “But I just don’t feel the car underneath me, I just don’t feel connected to this car and I can’t get it.
“I don’t really know what I am going to do about that.
“It is miserable. It is tough, I am giving it absolutely everything.
“I am here as late as I can be every day and I am preparing the best you can and I get in the car and I just can’t connect with it.
“I don’t really know what to say about it.
“It is good that George had a good run today so that is great. He will hopefully be able to score some good points for the team and I will try and recover tomorrow, it is a new day.
“I will give it everything.”
Both Mercedes cars benefitted from the shock Q2 exit of reigning world champion Max Verstappen following a driveshaft failure, which left the Dutchman’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to take pole.
While Russell was able to give himself a strong chance of scoring significant points by sealing a third-place starting berth, Hamilton explained his driving style means his car is setup slightly differently to his team-mate’s.
“George is able to get the car in a different place to me. I just struggled to extract the performance from the car,” he added.
“It’s mostly me. In high speed, the car is a little bit unstable in set-up.
“It’s a little bit different [to George]. There is just one particular thing that I do differently, but maybe it will be ok for tomorrow. I wouldn’t hold my breath.
“The car is where it is. George did a great job. He’s right up there on the second row, so the car has obviously got performance.
“I just don’t feel connected to this car and no matter what I do and no matter what I change, I can’t get confidence in it. I’m at a bit of a loss with it.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff earlier this week admitted Hamilton “needs to look” at joining other teams in the future if Mercedes are unable to provide him with a winning car.
However, the seven-time world champion insisted he is not thinking about moving elsewhere and “loves” his team.
“I’m not focused on that. I love this team and I am so grateful for everyone that’s been on the journey with me with this team. I don’t envisage being anywhere else,” Hamilton said.
“I don’t see myself quitting. I don’t feel like I’m a quitter, but I wouldn’t say it’s giving me a lot. I’ve been there and done that and bought the t-shirt many times.
“But I am trying to be patient and work with the team to get us to a good place. That’s all I can say right now. I’m not planning on going anywhere else.”
Brundle: Merc not in ‘crisis’ but lots of work to do
Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle believes, although Mercedes aren’t quite yet facing a “crisis”, they have some big changes to make if they are to start seeing improvements out on the track.
“I don’t think it’s a crisis, I think that’s too strong a word for it, but they’ve got a lot of work to do,” Brundle said.
“They will have to change the car, I think the first big step we’ll see will be in Imola at that Grand Prix. Then I think there’ll be some sidepods coming and quite a lot of changes.
“They thought they’d sorted it over the winter, and they simply haven’t. If anything it’s further behind than it was last year.”
Former Mercedes driver and Sky Sports F1’s Nico Rosberg also believes his former team are in a “difficult situation” but, in the long run, Hamilton will stay “super motivated”.
“It is such a difficult situation for them. They are so used to success [and are now] in such a prolonged period of difficulty and not making progress, struggling more actually,” Rosberg said.
“The talent there is still second to none. It is such a challenge to now decide if there is an issue and some people need to be moved around. It is really difficult.
“Toto (Wolff) has to play a big role keeping everybody motivated as everybody is coming to the realisation that they won’t be winning races any time soon.
“This is where the drivers come into play as well. I think you can see Lewis on the radio always picking up the team and pushing them. That has been great to see. George (Russell) surely does the same.
“From what I can see Lewis is super-motivated still. Russell is on a par with him and he really wants to beat him so that is a big driver.
“In the evening in Bahrain, in the Mercedes engineering room, Lewis and George were there in front of their computers so they are really pushing hard.”
Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday’s race begins at 5pm, with build up from 3:30pm. Get Sky Sports