Published On: Fri, Mar 1st, 2024

Lewis Hamilton laughs and gives damning two-word verdict on Bahrain struggles | F1 | Sport

Lewis Hamilton laughed before describing his ninth-placed Bahrain qualifying finish as “not great” in a damning verdict of his first run-out of the 2024 Formula One season. In a very tight field, the Brit couldn’t put together a competitive time and watched his Mercedes team-mate George Russell take third.

When asked for his thoughts on qualifying by Sky Sports, Hamilton laughed and simply responded: “Not great…” He then added: “But I was genuinely really excited to be here.”

However, Hamilton was still upbeat about his own chances this season and credited the Silver Arrows team for improvements to the car after several complaints last season. The seven-time world champion now believes the W15 can challenge alongside Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc at the top of the grid, as evidenced by his team-mate. 

“I think George’s position and pace really highlights, and is a real testament to the team, how hard everyone has worked over winter,” Hamilton continued. “It’s amazing to have a car we can fight with. It really unites the fire and flame within us drivers. For me, Bono (Peter Bonnington – race engineer) and everyone did a great job, and I struggled in qualifying today.

“Yesterday, was really good. Me and George were on the same setups but he went left and I went right. Right was definitely not good for a single lap but I felt more comfortable with more fuel, so I hope that reflects tomorrow.

“I’ve definitely sacrificed (single-lap pace) more than I hoped to and I hope it pays off tomorrow. It’s a lot of work to do to get past all those quick cars ahead of me but it will be fun.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton’s thoughts that only fine margins prevented him from starting Saturday’s Grand Prix higher up the grid.

“Tiny margins,” Wolff said. “You get a tire in the optimum window, it’s just two, three-tenths difference and then you’re right in the game. The set-up changes today contributed to the performance.

“The beginning we thought: ‘Oh maybe we took too much of the performance off and sacrificed for tomorrow’s race’, but by the end we got it quite ok with George. Tomorrow should be better, but we are still learning about this car.”

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