Formula 1 Racing

“Gust of wind” blamed for Hamilton’s Q3 disappointment in Miami · RaceFans

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2024

Mercedes has explained how a gust of wind contributed to a disappointing qualifying performance for Lewis Hamilton in Miami last weekend.

Hamilton set the second-fastest time in Q2 but slumped to ninth on the grid in Q3. While most drivers improved their times in the later session Hamilton lapped over four tenths of a second slower.

The team’s head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said a combination of a tailwind and the sensitivity of the tyres was enough to badly compromise Hamilton’s only lap on the soft rubber in Q3.

“We were pretty pleased with the lap time he did in Q2 and hoping to to repeat that in Q3,” Shovlin explained in a video released by the team.

“It wasn’t really an issue with the grip initially, and the start of the lap was actually quite good. He was unlucky in that as he came around to turn 11, he got a gust of wind that was from behind.

“What that does is actually drops the amount of downforce on the car quite significantly. So as he went into that corner had quite a big oversteer. That then puts temperature [heat] in the tyres.

“Once that temperature’s in, that’s a very tight, twisty section, there’s no way for them to cool down and that’s what then causes the loss of grip. So had it not been for the gust of wind, it would have been a better lap for sure.”

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The team switched Hamilton to the harder medium tyre compound for his final run in Q3. “The other thing that cost us was that we only had one new soft tyre by that point, so it wasn’t like he could have another go and try and repeat it,” Shovlin explained. “So it’s frustrating because by that point the car was working well for him. He was obviously driving it very well, and a shame that we couldn’t repeat that lap when it mattered.”

Mercedes took the unusual step of using a set of mediums in Q3 as they’d exhausted their supply of softs.

“We had a look in FP1, did a lap on [softs], we weren’t unusual in doing that. But what was a bit different was in Q1 we decided to do two new sets, so we actually did three runs with both drivers, a used and two new.

“That was [partly] because we’d struggled the day before in the sprint qualifying. We wanted to make sure the drivers had time to understand what the car was doing, but it put us one set down to the other. So then when you finally get to Q3, we only had one remaining.

“We did actually do a run on the medium tyre [in Q3]. We had seen it…

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