Formula 1 Racing

How Hamilton’s deficit to Russell was “all in the first sector” · RaceFans

Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Lewis Hamilton admitted after qualifying he didn’t have as much confidence in his car as his team mate, who will start four places ahead of him on the grid for today’s race.

George Russell produced a best lap of 1’28.857, almost four-tenths of a second faster than his team mate. The pair were closer at the beginning of the session, but as the track conditions improved Hamilton wasn’t able to find as much time as his team mate.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton hasn’t felt fully at one with the W14 so far. “They’re both different drivers,” he explained, “they need a car with a certain behaviour in order to drive fast.

“Lewis, at no time [has] his car given him this season any feedback that allows him to push to the limits. And if you haven’t got that car underneath you, in sector one you’re never able to push fast through the corners and this is what we’ve seen.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Hamilton can’t push the W14 to its limit, admits Wolff

There was almost nothing to choose between Hamilton and Russell in the second and third sectors of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit – a matter of a few hundredths of a second either way. But through the tight chicane of turns one and two, and the 10 quick corners that follow, Hamilton lost 0.285 seconds.

“It’s all in sector one,” said Wolff. “George just drives around that and is able to have more confidence in the car in sector one. It’s something that we know is up to us to give them both a better car in order to storm ahead.”

While the W14 lacks the outright speed to compete with the likes of Red Bull, in Jeddah Hamilton wasn’t able to get as much out of it as his team mate. “At the moment it definitely feels like I just couldn’t get any more out of the car today,” he admitted.

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Hamilton’s qualifying radio messages


Hamilton was less than two-tenths of a second behind Russell after their first runs in Q1:

Bonnington So there’s a tenth in turns eight, nine 10 and half a tenth 16, 17.
Hamilton What position are we?
Bonnington So currently P6. We were three degrees shy on target temp.

While Max Verstappen set a pace no one could match, Hamilton’s second run brought him within a tenth of his team mate:

Bonnington So P5. It’s nine-tenths to Verstappen P1. Got George in P4, just nine-hundredths ahead. Eight, nine 10 looks at least an improvement, it’s just 16 and 17.

Hamilton began a final lap but immediately backed out of it after catching…

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