Lewis Hamilton was left feeling dejected by one other difficult qualifying session on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, saying he merely “can’t connect” with Mercedes’ W14 machine.
One year on from his Q1 exit in Jeddah, the seven-time world champion needed to accept solely the eighth quickest qualifying time, which can develop into seventh on the grid resulting from Charles Leclerc’s engine penalty.
READ MORE: Perez storms to pole for Saudi Arabian GP as Verstappen suffers dramatic Q2 exit
With loads of questions over Mercedes’ automobile idea, and team boss Toto Wolff admitting they have been “proven wrong”, Hamilton supplied one other grim evaluation over their present efficiency degree.
“I feel like I struggled with the car in the high speed [sections] particularly. But I just don’t feel the car underneath me. I just don’t feel connected to this car and I can’t get it, so I don’t really know what I’m going to do about that,” Hamilton advised Sky Sports F1.
He continued: “It’s depressing. It’s powerful. I’m giving it completely the whole lot; I’m right here as late as I will be each day, I’m making ready the most effective you possibly can, and I simply get within the automobile and I can’t join with it.
“I don’t really know what to say about it, but it’s good that George [Russell] had a good run today, so it’s great to be able to hopefully score some good points for the team, and I’ll try and recover tomorrow – it’s a new day so I’ll give it everything.”
As Hamilton alluded to, there was some trigger for optimism on the opposite facet of the Mercedes storage with Russell’s cost to P4, which can develop into P3 after Leclerc’s penalty is utilized.
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“P3 on the grid tomorrow; I’m really pleased with that. [It’s] far from [our] expectations and the work the team did overnight was really great – a lot of effort went in to try and maximise the package we’ve got,” he mentioned.
But regardless of feeling optimistic about beginning simply behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Russell is conscious that the recovering Leclerc and Max Verstappen – sidelined by a driveshaft situation in qualifying – are prone to overhaul him on race day.
“They are going to be coming through quite quickly. You want to have a good tussle on track with competitors in a similar ballpark to you, but obviously Red Bull are in a really fantastic place right now; their car is exceptional [and] Max is just going to slice through the field,” he commented.
“We will do our best to keep them behind, but when they’ve got a second [a lap] pace advantage, [so] they can kind of do what they like with the strategy – they’ll come back through comfortably.”
READ MORE: Jeddah pole-sitter Perez hoping to keep ‘lion’ Alonso at bay as he predicts how much Verstappen can recover from P15
Nonetheless, requested if there’s any hope of a podium, Russell added: “I feel we have to simply see. Max is the largest query mark, Charles as properly, how he’s going to return by means of the sector.
“But definitely, why not? Why shouldn’t we be aiming for a podium and put in the fight to Fernando? The two Aston Martins are where our biggest fight is tomorrow.”