It was an unforgettable Saturday qualifying for George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and the entire Mercedes Formula 1 team.
Hamilton failed to make it through the second qualifying session and will start in 13th place on Sunday. Russell advanced to his Q3 and was slightly ahead as he would start from 6th. Still, no one around the team looks happy, including Russell.
“The car hasn’t worked well this weekend. The track has improved so we seem to be slower, obviously this is a bit insane for a circuit as you can see from the pace of the other cars but in the end we do a better job. is needed.”
Despite advancing to Q3 and starting from the third row, Russell was not happy.
“I’m not going to be proud of qualifying sixth. The car felt worse as the weekend progressed,” added Russell. “It rarely happens, but it doesn’t come together very well here in Miami.”
As for Hamilton, he pointed to traffic and timing.
“We weren’t that fast today, so we struggled. “It’s a shame we didn’t make it to Q3. We had hopes but the timing was just off at the end,” said the seven-time world champion. “I couldn’t get the tires into the window with the heavy traffic in the last corner. Overall, I struggled with the balance of the car. I’ll put it down so you can come back tomorrow.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shared the drivers’ frustration.
“At the end of the day, the cars we have today are simply under-performing, and the problem only gets worse from there. We can put in a solid performance, if it’s bad we’ll struggle and that’s what happened today. Our true level was behind it,” said Wolff.
Wolff’s attempts to find the silver lining didn’t seem to work.
We’ll see what we can do tomorrow and try to recover from the starting position. There were some signs of higher fuel and faster pace, but you shouldn’t go into a race expecting miracles,” Wolff said.
“It’s going to be a tough battle for points.”
The team’s trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, claimed the team was behind the rest of the field due to the improved track surface in Miami. “Obviously, we don’t have the scale for this track,” said Shovlin. “We started the weekend well when the track was at its worst, but as the circuit gripped we felt like others were gaining ground and we stopped. ”
The results bear that out. Mercedes went strong in Friday’s first practice session, with Russell and Hamilton topping the timesheets with his first and second respectively. Since then, however, the Silver Arrows have retreated, or more likely, the rest of the field has improved.
Whether Mercedes can catch up remains to be seen, but as Shovlin said they will do everything they can to turn things around on Sunday. There may be. “I’m going to give it my all for the race now. The grid is mixed up so maybe it will help us find opportunities to move forward tomorrow,” said Shovlin. “If the degradation is severe, or if there is an incident, we may be able to use a second set of hard tires which may present an opportunity. It’s impossible to know where everyone will drop out after an interrupted session, so tomorrow will be one of the races we’re planning ahead.”