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Hamilton records worst qualifying since 2017

today20/04/2024

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Hamilton records worst qualifying since 2017

Lewis Hamilton insists he is ‘mentally strong’ after worst qualifying for nearly seven years

Lewis Hamilton insisted he is “mentally very strong” after his worst qualifying in nearly seven years which was labelled a “disaster” and “unnecessary” by former rival Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton will line up in 18th position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after his troubled start to the new season took another desperate twist in Shanghai.

Earlier on Saturday, Hamilton rolled back the years to lead the sprint race for eight laps before he had to settle for second after he was overtaken by eventual winner Max Verstappen.

But four hours after a result Hamilton described as his “best in a long time”, the 39-year-old was brought crashing back down to earth when he was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

The seven-time world champion locked up at the penultimate corner on his speediest lap, and he finished in the Q1 knockout zone, leaving only RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant behind him on the grid.

An exasperated Mercedes boss Toto Wolff looked to the heavens after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed.

“Sorry guys,” reported Hamilton over the radio. He finished eight tenths off the pace and half-a-second behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Hamilton last suffered such a lowly grid spot when he crashed out of qualifying in Brazil in 2017.

“That is seriously painful,” said Rosberg, who endured a fractious relationship with Hamilton as they duelled for the title.

The German, who eventually beat Hamilton to the championship in 2016 before retiring only days later, added in commentary for Sky Sports: “It was really unnecessary to push the limit and as a seven-time world champion that is a mistake which should be avoidable.

“He broke three metres too late, and he had the brake balance too far forward. He lost at least four tenths which easily would have put him in Q2. That’s a disaster.”

Aside from his strong showing in Saturday’s 19-lap dash to the chequered flag – assisted by his impressive display in Friday’s rain-hit qualifying session – this has been Hamilton’s worst-ever start to a season.

The British driver, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next year, failed to finish inside the top six at the opening four rounds of the campaign. And his bleak result leaves him staring at another underwhelming race.

Addressing Rosberg’s remarks, Hamilton said: “It wasn’t one of my best qualifying laps. I don’t blame anything on the team.

“I’m very strong mentally. It’s not great, it’s not a mind-f*** at all. S*** happens, you know.

“Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. This car is on a knife edge so it can easily do what we did.”

Mercedes are desperately out of sorts and far removed from the all-conquering team which carried Hamilton to six of his seven record-equalling titles.

Russell will be the lead car when the lights go out for Sunday’s 57-lap race. He qualified only eighth.

Over at Red Bull, it was business as usual as Verstappen followed up his convincing sprint win with a fifth straight pole.

The Dutchman, who is on course to take his fourth championship in as many seasons, saw off team-mate Sergio Perez as Red Bull secured a front-row lockout. It also marked the team’s 100th pole in F1.

Verstappen finished 0.322 seconds clear of Perez, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third, half-a-second back.

Lando Norris, who dropped from pole to finish a disappointing sixth in the sprint race, qualified fourth, one position ahead of Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished sixth and seventh respectively for Ferrari.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

Written by: Radio News Hub


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