Lewis Hamilton lost for answers after ‘frustrating’ Monaco GP qualifying

The 39-year-old will start from seventh on the grid and behind his Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

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Lewis Hamilton expressed his “frustration” with Mercedes‘ qualifying pace and admitted he was unable to explain their lack of performance ahead of Sunday’s Formula 1 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

After hailing Friday’s two practice sessions as their “best day” of the season, it was back to square one for the Silver Arrows on Saturday. Hamilton could only place his W15 seventh on the grid and was surpassed by his team-mate George Russell, who out-qualified Max Verstappen to secure fifth place on the grid.

For the 39-year-old, it was difficult to understand how they were so far behind the polesitter Charles Leclerc and Oscar Piastri in the McLaren, having been within the same lap times throughout the weekend.

“It felt great yesterday. We have been working really hard to improve this car and from the get-go it felt great,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “We obviously benefitted yesterday and this morning. We are not making any drastic changes or anything like that.

Lewis Hamilton looks on ahead of hitting the track in Friday practice at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Sam Bloxham / Mercedes F1 team
Lewis Hamilton was perplexed by his lack of speed in Monaco GP qualifying. | Sam Bloxham / Mercedes F1 team

“Once we got to qualifying, I don’t understand. I already know automatically that I’m going to lose two tenths going into qualifying. That’s definitely frustrating and something I don’t have an answer for. I’m not driving any different, the laps were great. [We’re] just lacking for some reason.

“The team have worked really hard back at the factory to bring an upgrade to the last two races and also an upgrade this weekend but we only have one, which George has,” Hamilton added. “I anticipated it would be difficult to out-qualify George because he has the upgraded component but it’s great to see we are bringing upgrades.”

Wolff content with performance

It represents a huge changearound over the past 24 hours, where Hamilton was thriving and went within two tenths of Leclerc in FP2, but couldn’t find the pace in qualifying to match the Ferrari.

Russell had been coping with violent vibrations under braking for the majority of Friday’s sessions. However, Mercedes appeared to have fixed his steering issues overnight and the younger of the two British drivers was able to draw the full benefit from an upgraded front wing.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was somewhat more upbeat than Hamilton, insisting the team met their targeted times in qualifying and lamented Russell narrowly missing out on the second row.

“When you look the final positions on the time sheets, P5 and P7 probably looks like a bit more of the same, but in fact the pace was good, and we were just a few milliseconds away from P2 or P3 with George,” Wolff said.

“Lewis has put together a very strong weekend, but it wasn’t to be on that final run. The sport is so close right now, probably more than it has ever been, and it’s a fight for tiny margins in every area. As always, it was a challenge to find the sweet spot of the tyres, but we hit all our targets for those final laps and probably that’s the pace of the car right now.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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