Published On: Fri, Mar 8th, 2024

Lewis Hamilton’s frustrations clear as Mercedes unable to fix problem | F1 | Sport

Lewis Hamilton gave a frustrated interview after another difficult qualifying session in Saudi Arabia and told Mercedes: “We need to fix this problem.” The Silver Arrows are once again being haunted by the same bouncing issue that made racing so difficult for Hamilton and George Russell in 2022.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who will join rivals Ferrari next season, starts the Grand Prix in Jeddah in eighth. That comes after he started the season-opening Bahrain race ninth, before finishing P7.

In Saudi Arabia, the Briton finished eight-tenths adrift of reigning champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull on Friday night. Hamilton had appeared optimistic at the start of the season that the W15 would provide him and team-mate Russell with the ability to greater challenge the pole-sitter.

But that has not proven the case just yet, and Hamilton’s exasperation was clear for all to see as he spoke to Sky Sports in the paddock.

The 39-year-old explained of Mercedes’ bouncing: “It was similar to previous years, I would say. There are so many elements of this car which are better, it’s just that we are being hindered with the bouncing we have.

“The bouncing we have through [turns] six, seven, eight, nine and 10, which probably affected George… it’s something they’ve not been able to fix. We made some changes overnight and this morning the car felt so much better.

“I was regaining this confidence again but then when we get to qualifying, it disappears again. But George was doing a great job. He’s a lot more comfortable in the car – a bit similar to the past couple of years I’d say.

“But we’ll keep our heads down and keep working away. I’ve got a bit of a better feeling as to where the issues are coming from so I will try and address it with the team.”

A downhearted Hamilton admitted there is no way set-up-wise that he or his engineers can tackle the problem. He continued: “We’ve tried every set-up change. We can’t get rid of it. It’s difficult to explain it. We had some bouncing in Bahrain but nowhere near as intense as here.

“That first sector is super high-speed with a real lot of yaw in the car and a lot of lateral load and the bouncing really offsets the car quite a bit. If you imagine when the car goes up and down at the back, your balance shifts forwards and rearwards.

“If you are doing that at 160mph or 170mph, correcting that each time, it’s really… the others like Max are flat through six, seven and eight and the balance is just stable. That’s what we are working towards.

“But we’ve got to fix it. It’s three years in a row. We’ve got to get on top of it.” Russell, who starts the race P7, meanwhile said: “We are still trying to understand this car.

“In FP2 in Bahrain we were P1 and P2. I was P3 and P4 in practice here, the pace was looking good. We slipped back slightly today. There is potential there but we are just trying to wrap our heads around it and learn about it.”

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