Lewis Hamilton perplexed by Mercedes woes in dismal Australian GP qualifying display

Hamilton is yet to qualify higher than eighth so far in the 2024 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton was left confused and disappointed in equal measure by Mercedes‘ struggles in qualifying for the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix, as the seven-time world champion’s miserable start to the season showed no sign of abating.

The 39-year-old will start from 11th on the grid after he was knocked out of the Q2 session in qualifying by six-hundredths of a second as his 2024 campaign went quickly from bad to worse.

It means Hamilton is still yet to qualify higher than eighth so far this season, while his team-mate George Russell safely made it through and qualified seventh on the grid for the Silver Arrows for Sunday’s race.

It was a disappointing end to Saturday for Hamilton, who had displayed decent pace in FP3 earlier in the day. But he ended up a full second behind pole-sitter Max Verstappen when comparing their fastest lap times, leaving the veteran once again searching for answers from his engineers.

“It felt great in P3 and it’s a shame because we were right there with these guys, we didn’t really understand why,” Hamilton told the press in Australia.

“But then you go into qualifying and it’s another inconsistency, which really messes with your mind. George did a good job today… and it is what it is. I’ll just try and do my best tomorrow.”

It is an indictment of where Mercedes are at the moment that the two cars that went quicker than Hamilton on the second run were Yuki Tsunoda in the RB and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

A multitude of problems for Mercedes

It represented a dreadful day for Hamilton, who had qualified on pole in Melbourne eight times in his career prior to Saturday. When asked what was needed to find the pace he has previously shown around the Albert Park circuit, Hamilton replied: “There’s a long list.

“I think our car is on a bit of a knife edge, in the afternoon here the wind picks up and the same as FP2, and that’s where the car becomes a bit more unstable. This morning, it was nice and calm, and then the wind picked up.

“We weren’t able to pick up our pace in qualifying, I’m not sure why, even though we had lighter fuel, less so than FP3. It’s not a great feeling for everyone, I feel for everyone in the team, but we’ll keep plugging away.”

Lewis Hamilton is yet to qualify higher than eighth. | Mercedes

Mercedes‘ problems in qualifying leave them with a huge task on Sunday to avoid being left behind by their rivals, having only collected 26 points from the opening two races.

Ferrari are on the front row for the third consecutive race with Carlos Sainz behind Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in fifth. Lando Norris also put his car fourth on the grid, with the home favourite Oscar Piastri qualifying sixth ahead of Russell.

And it seems Hamilton will need to pull something special out of the bag to catch the two McLarens on Sunday as the eight-time constructors’ winners continue to struggle, despite early optimism about the potential of their W15 car.

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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