A downbeat Lewis Hamilton admitted he’s struggling to click with Mercedes’ 2023 Formula 1 car after a disappointing 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying session where he finished eighth.
He’ll start one place ahead for the race thanks to Charles Leclerc‘s grid penalty but that still leaves him behind Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon, and just two-hundredths of a second ahead of McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri.
Meanwhile George Russell had much more success and will line up third for the grand prix, after beating his teammate by more than three-tenths.
“I just don’t feel connected to this car,” Hamilton told reporters after qualidying. “And no matter what I do, no matter what I change, I can’t get confidence, I’m at a bit of a loss with it.
“The car is where it is, I mean George did a great job he’s right up there in the second row so the car’s obviously got performance”
Hamilton on lack of pace: it’s mostly me
After struggling so much with porpoising in the 2022 F1 season, Mercedes seem to have solved the problem in 2023 but at the expense of their top-end performance.
Russell said ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP that he thought Mercedes had gone too conservative with the W14 as they’ve been jumped by Aston Martin and failed to close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari.
And after Hamilton looked like he had the edge on George Russell in Bahrain, with the younger driver seemingly frustrated with the lack of pace from his Mercedes at times, things have flipped around in the second race of the season.
Hamilton was asked whether he thought porpoising had returned to haunt Mercedes in Jeddah but he took responsibility for his poor qualifying performance.
“It wasn’t bouncing, it’s mostly me,” Hamilton said. “I just struggled to extract the performance from the car.
“And a little bit in the high speed, the car is a little bit unstable in my setup, there’s just one particular thing that I did differently, maybe it’ll be okay for tomorrow but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”