Lewis Hamilton reveals why he ‘veered off’ from George Russell’s F1 set-up for qualifying

Lewis Hamilton has explained the set-up change which resulted in his disappointing qualifying performance in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Lewis Hamilton says that his poor Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying display was the result of a set-up change he made to his Mercedes F1 car.

The seven-time world champion led a Mercedes 1-2 in second practice on Thursday, but could only qualify ninth on the grid for Saturday’s season-opener in Bahrain.

Hamilton was 0.225 seconds behind Mercedes teammate George Russell, who qualified an impressive third behind Red Bull’s three-time world champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“Yesterday George and I were on identical car set-ups and the car was feeling great and then we veered off,” Hamilton said of his difficult qualifying.

“He went one way and I went the other. You could say the one I was on was not good on a single lap. I hope that it’s good in the race.”

When asked why he decided on the change, Hamilton replied: “I wasn’t comfortable with my race pace and so I changed the car to hopefully make the race pace better.

“We’ll see tomorrow if that really is the case but trying to find a good balance for the race pace. There’s a lot of degradation with the rears and race pace is really everything here. Obviously position counts as well.”

It was also put to Hamilton that his car appeared to be bottoming-out a lot, but he insisted it was the same for most drivers.

“I think everyone’s was bottoming,” he explained. “I think the ride height was good. I did generally think it was okay. Very, very tough qualifying session.

"It’s amazing to see how close everyone is and I think George’s position is a testament to the job everyone has done at the factory and finally giving us a car that we can fight with.

“I just didn’t utilise that today when I made that set-up change. I put something on the car that we haven’t put on for the last two years and I was hoping it would be ok.

“I decided to stick with it and yeah, it wasn’t nice necessarily to drive.”

Despite being disappointed about his qualifying result, Hamilton is upbeat about Mercedes’ chances, believing their revamped W15 is a “real big improvement” on its predecessors.

“The car is really fantastic, it is a real big improvement from the previous years,” he said.

“A lot more stable, a lot more fun to drive but we still have work to do as you can see. But for George to be three tenths off Max, it’s incredible.

“To know that we have a package that we can potentially fight with is really pleasing.” 

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