Lewis Hamilton convinced Mercedes “lost performance” despite his best qualifying of F1 2024

Lewis Hamilton is concerned that Mercedes still "lost performance" in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Lewis Hamilton still believes Mercedes “lost performance” despite securing his best qualifying result of the 2024 F1 season so far at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion out-qualified teammate George Russell for only the second time this year as the Mercedes pair locked out the second row of the grid in third and fourth. Hamilton finished three-tenths adrift of McLaren's Lando Norris, who took pole position, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

It also marked the first time Hamilton has qualified inside the top three in a regular qualifying session since last year’s United States Grand Prix.

This season Mercedes have regularly made promising starts to a weekend in Friday practice, only to suffer a sudden performance dip in qualifying. While that wasn’t the case in Barcelona, Hamilton felt there was more pace in his W15.

“I still feel like I lost performance going into qualifying,” Hamilton said. “It’s all about perspective, so maybe they just moved forwards.

“But I definitely feel like there was a little bit more. But just as you start to push the car, it doesn’t like it. In practice, when you leave a little bit of margin, the car feels quite nice. But it’s when you start to really lean on it to try and get that extra bit of lap time out where we really struggle.

“I think it’s all in the tyres. You saw in P1 I was seven tenths down due to an issue with the blankets. We got it sorted for the following sessions but it puts you a bit on the back foot.

“Otherwise, it’s good that we’re up here and it’s the best qualifying I’ve had this year, so I am really grateful for it.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post qualifying FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post qualifying FIA Press…

Hamilton was also quick to downplay his chances of challenging for a first victory in over two years on Sunday.

“I think it will be very difficult,” the 39-year-old said. "I think these two [Norris and Verstappen] will be very quick.

“Position is everything and also there’s two of us, so hopefully we can apply pressure as a team to both of the cars ahead in order to maybe play out something in strategy.

“It’s all about degradation tomorrow and how we look after the tyres. So we won’t know until we get into that first run.”

Hamilton added: “I think the bigger concern is probably the Ferraris behind us. Obviously we are all within half a tenth, I think, from third to fifth or sixth.

“They had an upgrade this weekend. I think their long run pace looked quite strong, so I think it’s more working together as a team and try and hold position at least.

“If we happen to have more pace available to us and we’re able to hold onto these guys, then it’s game on. But we really won’t know until tomorrow and degradation is always the key here.

“When you have a really good weekend, you can save your balance and the rear tyres. So that’s going to be key for tomorrow.” 

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