After finishing fifth fastest in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team‘s Lewis Hamilton has spoken on his surprise to see his effort unrewarded around the Yas Marina Circuit.
Prior to qualifying, Hamilton was able to avoid any punishment from the FIA after the British driver had overtaken both Lando Norris and Kevin Magnussen in Free Practice Three under red flag conditions.
Despite the Brackley-based team’s success in São Paulo last time out, Mercedes were back to their usual position in the pecking order of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, as they once again played second fiddle to Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari.
Hamilton’s fastest time in Qualifying Three would prove to be just under seven-tenths of a second behind Max Verstappen’s pole time. Hamilton pointed to the W13’s lack of straight-line speed around the Yas Marina Circuit to explain the team’s struggles in qualifying.
“We came here expecting this to be a difficult one for us but we didn’t expect a gap of eight tenths to pole position. We were losing six tenths today on the straights to the top cars. I gave it everything, so it’s a bit of a surprising result and just being so far behind Red Bull and Ferrari.“
Hamilton went on to further explain how the return of porpoising on the W13 and issues with brake temperature had also contributed to the team’s qualifying performance. Despite the numerous issues to contend with throughout qualifying, Hamilton still remains optimistic of a better showing for the Silver Arrows in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
“Hopefully our race pace tomorrow will be better than our qualifying pace today. There’s also some bouncing at this track, which adds to our lack of performance and issues with temperature splits on the brakes which we’ve experienced throughout the whole season. The whole team is working hard and they’re doing an incredible job to fix these issues, especially also for next year. I’m looking to tomorrow and the final race of the season!”
George Russell: “Following the results in Brazil, we were probably hoping for a little bit more”
While Lewis Hamilton was left surprised by his fifth-place finish in qualifying, George Russell stated that his sixth-place finish in qualifying was “fair” when you consider how the W13 has reacted to the challenge of the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.
After receiving the tow from Hamilton on their second and final run of Q3, Russell would fall short of the time set by his teammate by the narrowest of margins, with the British driver finishing just three milliseconds behind Hamilton.
Post-qualifying, Russell admitted that after the heights of last weekend in Brazil, the team were simply hoping for more but won’t be left disheartened by their disappointing performance in qualifying.
“We hoped for better lap times during qualifying but should be in a stronger position during the race tomorrow as our long run pace looked competitive from what we’ve seen so far.
“The grid position seems fair when you look at our current car performance at a circuit like Abu Dhabi but following the results in Brazil, we were probably hoping for a little bit more. So, we would have liked to be a little bit closer to the front but should be in a better place for the race.“
The one-time Grand Prix winner ended by offering a mixed outlook ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix. Russell stated that while he expects to compete with the Ferrari’s for the podium places, he does not believe that the W13 will be able to reach the power of Red Bull over the course of the Grand Prix.
“Tomorrow will be interesting, as there are lots of different strategy options. I expect Red Bull to be out of reach, but I hope we can chase Ferrari. Let’s see what tomorrow brings – we will fight as hard as we can all the way to the finish line.”