Hamilton concerned Mercedes lost performance in qualifying

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes failed to retain its level of competitiveness in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix despite qualifying third, as he played down his chances of challenging for victory.

George Russell started from pole in Canada and fought for the win as Hamilton was left bemused by a tire temperature issue that left him starting seventh. A smoother Q3 in Spain saw the seven-time world champion secure third place on the grid behind Lando Norris and Max Verstappen, but having topped FP2 Hamilton says Mercedes still had issues trying to remain as competitive as it had been in practice.

“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. 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 tires. 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. But 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.”

Although he feels there was more performance in the Mercedes car on Saturday that it failed to extract, Hamilton still believes the team is more likely to be focused on defending from Ferrari behind than attacking the top two in the race.

“I think it will be very difficult [to challenge for the win]; I think these two 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 tire degradation tomorrow and how we look after the tires. So we won’t know until we get into that first run.

“I think the bigger concern is probably the Ferraris behind us. 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 [ahead], 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 tires. So that’s going to be key for tomorrow.”

Story originally appeared on Racer