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Hamilton's performance in qualifying for the Australian GP was his lowest in 14 years, causing confusion and surprise.
F1 Sport

Hamilton’s performance in qualifying for the Australian GP was his lowest in 14 years, causing confusion and surprise.

Lewis Hamilton expressed frustration with the lack of consistency in his Mercedes car, stating that it affects his mental state. This is evident in his qualifying result at the Australian Grand Prix, where he achieved his worst performance in 14 years. Hamilton, who holds the record for the most pole positions at Albert Park, will have to start the 58-lap race from 11th place after being knocked out in the second qualifying session.

Max Verstappen captured pole position, marking his third consecutive pole in the last three races. He is now aiming to achieve a record-tying 10th victory. Carlos Sainz from Ferrari will start alongside him on the front row. In the past two races, Hamilton qualified eighth in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago and ninth the previous week in Bahrain.

George Russell’s team-mate, who will start in seventh place on Sunday, has been outpaced over a single lap by a margin of 3-0 this season. Despite starting in only seventh and ninth place at the first two rounds, he has only accumulated eight points compared to Russell’s 18.

“I am troubled by the car’s inconsistency,” stated Hamilton, who placed fourth in the last practice session with only a tenth of a second behind the leader. There are numerous factors that need to be addressed. Our car’s handling is very delicate. As the day goes on, the wind becomes stronger and the car becomes more unpredictable. However, our competitors seem to be able to improve their lap times in qualifying, and I am unsure of the reason why.

“The feeling during qualifying was different compared to practice, even with less fuel. This is a disappointing experience for the whole team, but we will continue to put in effort.”

In the last 57 rounds of the 2021 season, Hamilton has not taken first place in a race since the second to last event in Saudi Arabia. This season, Mercedes has implemented a new approach to design, but Hamilton lacks confidence in the current Silver Arrow as it will be his final car before moving to Ferrari in 2025.

“For three consecutive years, I have experienced a similar sensation,” stated the seven-time world champion. There are moments, like this morning during practice, where I feel confident about our chances, but then it quickly fades. Perhaps if we improve the car’s consistency, we can become more competitive. However, there is still a lot of work to be done and everyone is giving their all.”

Lewis Hamilton, wearing his helmet and in his all black race suit, walks down the pit lane during qualifying.View image in fullscreen

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes, was straightforward in his evaluation of his team’s performance. He expressed disappointment, particularly because their results in the final practice were within a tenth of a second. Although the weather conditions were slightly different, he did not see that as an excuse. He acknowledged that their car is challenging to handle and admitted that he has been frustrated for some time. However, he emphasized the importance of continuously working on improving and striving for better results. He made it clear that their current performance is not due to a lack of effort, but it is still not meeting their standards.

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Verstappen was at risk of losing his third consecutive pole position as Ferrari posed a threat to his dominant position on the grid. However, in front of a record-breaking crowd at a warm Albert Park, Verstappen increased his pace and secured his pole by a narrow margin of 0.270 seconds over Sainz.

After dominating the last nine rounds, starting with his win at September’s race in Japan, Verstappen is poised as the frontrunner for another victory in Sunday’s main event and has the chance to equal his own record. Verstappen expressed his satisfaction with his performance in Q3, stating, “It was a pleasant surprise today. Both of my laps felt smooth and enjoyable. It’s been a challenging weekend, but we were able to be competitive in the end.”

Sainz, who underwent urgent surgery in Jeddah 15 days ago to have his appendix removed, expressed, “The past few weeks have been challenging, with many days spent in bed. I wasn’t sure if I would make it to this weekend, but to qualify on the front row is almost unbelievable. I was a bit out of practice yesterday, but I quickly got my speed back and I am pleased with the car’s performance. I must admit, I am not completely at ease while driving out there, but I am able to do it.”

Source: theguardian.com