Hamilton ‘not connected’ to Mercedes car after miserable Jeddah qualifying

Hamilton 'not connected' to Mercedes car after miserable Jeddah qualifying

Lewis Hamilton admitted to having a bad feeling after claiming that he does not feel connected to the Mercedes W14 following a challenging qualifying session in Jeddah.

Hamilton set a time that was just eighth-fastest, 0.958 seconds slower than Sergio Perez, who will start Sunday’s race on pole after Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen had a technical issue that cut short his night run. The two-time world champion will start in position 15.

The seven-time came in roughly four tenths slower than teammate George Russell following what team principal Toto Wolff called a potentially “sticky” lap from the British star.

After Charles Leclerc receives a grid penalty on Sunday, he will move up to seventh, with teammate Russell expected to start third and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on pole.

Perez is joined on the first row by Fernando Alonso for his vibrant new Aston Martin squad, while George Russell sits third, four tenths ahead of Hamilton in the sister Mercedes.

Given the amount of work being done behind the scenes at Mercedes to attempt and turn around their fortunes, Hamilton acknowledged that he was unaware of what to do to solve his current lack of connection with the W14.

The W14 will undergo considerable tweaks in the upcoming races, according to team boss Wolff, who also said that by midseason the car should look quite different. But, by then it may be too late for Hamilton to launch a challenge for an eighth World Championship title.

Hamilton admitted he hasn’t yet felt comfortable with the car he will be driving in 2023 when questioned about his difficulties during qualifying.

“I feel like I struggled with the car in high speed [corners] particularly, but I just don’t feel the car underneath me,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the qualifying session.

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“I just don’t feel connected to this car, and I can’t get it… So I don’t really know what I’m going to do about that.”

When asked how it feels to have conquered such challenges in the past, he responded in one word: “miserable” before going on to explain.

“It’s tough, I’m giving it absolutely everything,” he said. “I’m here as late as I can be every day, I’m preparing the best we can, and just I just get in the car and I just can’t connect with it.”

“I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s good that George had a good run today… So that’s great, he’ll be able to hopefully score some good points for the team and I’ll try and recover.”

“Tomorrow’s a new day, so I’ll give it everything.”

The last of Hamilton’s 103 triumphs came after a historic incident with Verstappen here in Jeddah during the closing stages of their epic 2021 title campaign. Twenty-four races have gone since that moment.

Yet, that victory, which occurred 468 days ago, will seem far away to Hamilton, who cut a glum figure as he emerged from a disappointing night’s effort in Jeddah.

Hamilton’s professional future is still a controversial subject. The 38-year-contract old’s expires at the end of the year, and in the lead-up to Sunday’s race, Toto Wolff made the first-ever admission that he would not hold it against his star driver if he left Mercedes if the once-dominant team in the sport failed to alter its downward trend.

Hamilton also made it clear that despite his assurance that he is dedicated to the Mercedes team, he finds it difficult to feel satisfied despite being so far behind the lead.

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