Lewis Hamilton to start Miami GP from 13th after suffering Q2 exit; Hamilton unhappy with timing of when Mercedes sent him out to do final qualifying lap; Toto Wolff labels W14 a nasty piece of work; watch Miami GP live on Sky Sports F1 at 8:30pm Sunday
Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes need to get better with their qualifying strategy decisions after suffering a Q2 exit at the Miami GP on Saturday.
The seven-time world champion suffered his worst qualifying result on American soil and will start 13th on Sunday.
Both Hamilton and George Russell had found themselves in the drop zone for long periods of Q1 and Q2 and while Russell scraped into the top-10 shootout by 0.052s and will start sixth, Hamilton faced an early exit.
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The Briton had a scruffy start to his final attempt and Hamilton said being sent out as one of the final cars to cross the line meant he was unable to prepare his car and tyres as required and believes Mercedes need to react better to not having a car guaranteed of reaching the final stages.
“When you’re fast you can be more sat back, more relaxed, you can go at the last minute and take your time. You know you’re likely to make it easily into Q3,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“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.
“It’s done, I’ll try and get my head down [on Sunday] and see what I can do – 13th to God knows where.”
Hamilton had entered qualifying day with “no expectations” after being disheartened by how far off Mercedes were to Red Bull on Friday.
His qualifying session began strangely when he hit the wall and damaged his front wing on a slow lap when taking evasive action to avoid Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
“It was a difficult session. We’re not that quick so we really needed perfect laps but it was difficult to get into a rhythm, at the beginning I had that issue with the car gong slow in the last corner,” Hamilton continued.
“It was a couple of decent moments in there where I thought the car was good – the Q1 end of the run time was not too bad.
“We were at the back end of the top 10 of course and the last run I was the last of the pack and trying to get the temperatures into the tyres. I was at the back of the queue and everyone slowed into the last corner and I lost all temperatures and couldn’t do the lap.”
Wolff: This car is a nasty piece of work
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded the team had made a mistake sending Hamilton out for his final Q2 lap when they did.
He said they cannot understand what is making the W14 such a “nasty piece of work”.
“There is not a lot to say [to Lewis]. The car is simply not fast enough and putting him in a situation on his out lap where the driver isn’t able to prepare their tyres makes it even worse,” said Wolff.
“Nobody makes a mistake on purpose, we’re trying to give them the best position. We have in the past got it wrong many times and got it right many times. Today [Saturday] for George and Lewis that really went south and you can see in his first sector that the car simply wasn’t there.
“If things go bad, they compound bad. This happened for him and for all of us as a team. I take no enjoyment from finishing sixth because probably it was eighth or seventh. And even if it was fifth I took no enjoyment either because it’s a lack of comprehension of what it is that makes this car such a nasty piece of work.”
Russell: Sixth place flatters us
Russell’s sixth position was helped by Max Verstappen failing to set a time in the final segment after a mistake on his first run and Charles Leclerc also making a mistake on his first run before crashing out which prevented anyone completing a second attempt.
He was outqualified by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Russell admitted P6 was more than Mercedes’ performance deserved.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say quite pleased, of course I’ll take the result, it’s a very flattering result for the performance that we showed,” Russell told Sky Sports F1.
“I did a really decent lap in Q2 to just scrape through, just to get into Q3 and that’s not where we should be.
“Everybody is working so, so hard to bring more performance to the car, it’s definitely not for a lack of effort and it’s just not coming to us at the moment.
“Lots to think about, a few questions that need answering, tomorrow is a new day and we’ll see what we can do.”
Russell is hoping Mercedes’ trend of having a stronger race car will continue on Sunday, where rain could also be a factor in Miami.
“I hope so, it’s a theme of us that we generally have a better Sunday than Saturday,” Russell said.
“Obviously got the Alpine and Haas around us, hopefully we can get past them, Ferrari tend to struggle a bit more on Sunday.
“We’ll focus on [Sunday], but we need to think about the bigger picture and how we’re gonna bring that fight to the guys at the top.”
The Formula 1 season continues with the Miami GP – watch Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 from 7pm, lights out at 8.30pm. Get Sky Sports