Hamilton repeats suspicion over sudden pace slump

Sun, 9 June 2024, 10:01

Jun.9 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton has repeated his veiled suggestion that only his Mercedes suddenly suffers a mysterious pace dip in qualifying.

In Monaco two weeks ago, only George Russell had an upgraded wing on his car – but for Montreal, seven time world champion Hamilton also has the new part.

However, Hamilton said it’s been a trend all year so far that “automatically I lose two tenths going into qualifying”.

“I don’t anticipate being ahead of George this year in qualifying,” he added in Monaco.

Indeed, even Russell admits that the Ferrari-bound-in-2025 Hamilton was “flying” in Saturday morning practice in Montreal – before mysteriously slumping once again in qualifying.

“Saturdays usually go like this, so I can’t say I’m surprised,” the 39-year-old told Viaplay in Montreal.

“We didn’t change anything on the car but I was half a second slower. The grip just wasn’t there and I don’t know where it went. It was just suddenly gone.

“But congratulations to George, because it’s great for the team,” Hamilton added.

Team boss Toto Wolff admits that Hamilton’s sudden qualifying dip is a mystery. “At first it looked like Hamilton had the upper hand,” he said after qualifying.

“It looked like both our cars were beating everyone, but in the end it became so tight, also for George, and then Lewis couldn’t get a good laptime.

“We don’t know why it didn’t work out for him in the end. The tyre temperatures were in a good window. Lewis put in some strong laps today,” he added. “It just somehow didn’t come together in the end.

“That’s why the result is a bit bittersweet.”

The good news for Mercedes is that, amid a recent series of upgrades, the former world champions finally now appear to be re-joining F1’s front group.

“We’ve been sort of zigzagging over these past couple of years but in the last six months, those zigzags have narrowed,” said Russell.

Even Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko admits Mercedes is now closing in on the frontrunners.

“Yes, Mercedes have taken a step forward,” said the team consultant. “They were 2-3kph ahead of us on all sections of the track, which shows that they are good aerodynamically.”

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