Lewis Hamilton has pinpointed the corner that cost him crucial time in the final part of qualifying for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion struggled in Friday’s practice sessions but emerged as the only real threat to Max Verstappen when qualifying began.
Hamilton topped Q1 and looked odds-on to book a front row grid slot alongside the world champion until a disappointing final flying lap around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya left him fifth.
“I’m generally really happy, I think we’ve made some great progress with the car,” Hamilton told select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com.
“Today, for us to be fighting for P2 was a big surprise, we did some great work overnight and the car really felt so much better this morning.
“Just had so much more confidence in the car, so these upgrades definitely worked, so a big thank you to everyone back home.
“It’s massively encouraging. If we were fighting for a championship, maybe I’d be a bit more frustrated that I lost two tenths in Turn 10 but I’m not and I’ll try get it back tomorrow.”
The circuit has been revamped for 2023, with the slow-speed chicane at the end of the lap replaced by a high-speed final corner that should make it easier to overtake down to Turn 1.
Hamilton heaped praise on the changes and also set his sights on challenging Verstappen for the victory come Sunday in Spain.
“It’s mega without it [the chicane],” Hamilton added. “The track was mega before it and it’s still good with the chicane, it was like a go-karting section.
“But now we have these two fast corners that are epic. You’re going in flat out and you don’t know if you’re going to make it – it’s so exciting.
“I’m trying to go chase Max.”
Hamilton explains Russell incident
The session wasn’t without incident for Hamilton, who bizarrely came together with his teammate on the run down to Turn 1 in Q2.
The coming together caused the 38-year-old to abort his lap after sustaining damage to his front wing, while Russell went on to be eliminated in 12th.
Hamilton described Russell’s actions as “dangerous” over team radio at the time but was more measured when he explained his version of events at the end of the session.
He said: “We were sent out at much different times. I was being given my times on my out lap.
“Everyone is starting from that Turn 12, so when I came round Turn 12 there no-one ahead, so I got on the gas and started to pick up the pace.
“I came round Turn 13 and George looked like he was going into the pit lane so I kept going and then all of a sudden he cut back across, which was obviously a bit confusing because I didn’t even know he was there.
“I think he had bailed out his first lap, so then I was towing him, just in case he was giving me a tow and then he moved to the right so I was like, ‘Ah he is giving me a tow’ so I went to do my lap and then he cut back across.
“It was just a misunderstanding. I had front wing damage and I don’t know if there was any damage to the floor, but either way we couldn’t have competed with the Red Bull.”