Mercedes has opened up on Lewis Hamilton’s performance struggles despite the seven-time world champion signing a new deal with the team for 2024.
The challenges that Lewis Hamilton encountered during qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix have been addressed by Mercedes chief technical officer Mike Elliott, who attributes his struggles to a poor start to his flying lap.
Although Hamilton’s qualifying effort at Zandvoort resulted in him starting from P13 on the grid, he showed off his racing skills by making significant progress throughout the race to finish in P6.
Elliott discussed the qualifying troubles in a video made available by the Mercedes team, noting the packed condition of the track as an important factor.
Elliott claims that as a result, Hamilton backed off during his initial attempt and pushed harder on the subsequent lap, during which his tyres were degraded.
“In Lewis’s case, he was trying to position himself,” he explained. “And it’s always really difficult at Zandvoort because positioning yourself for a fast lap.
“You have to do that out of turn 12 because you’re sort of accelerating through 13 and 14 and onto the start-finish straight.”
Hamilton came into contact with another opponent, Logan Sargeant, during this particular lap. Although he overtook Sargeant, he still started the lap barely 1.5 seconds behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Hamilton was unable to get the optimal performance out of his car from this position, so he had to retreat. The Mercedes driver had to attempt again on the following lap as a result.
“He managed to jump Sargeant but found himself starting the lap only one and a half seconds behind Norris and as a consequence of that, he wasn’t able to get the best out of the car and had to back off.”
Unfortunately, he was unable to maximize the performance of his car at this point because the tyres had probably already seen considerable overheating and wear.
“So that meant he needed to go on his next lap, and on that next lap he probably had already taken the best out of the tyres.
“The probably was starting to see an amount of overheating towards the end of the lap and therefore just couldn’t get the best out of the car.”
Elliott indicated that the odds had a part in how Hamilton’s qualifying lap played out, even if some of these challenges are related to track position as well as controlling other cars on the track.
“While I think some of that is all about trying to find your right position on the track and dealing with other cars around you, we’re just unlucky with how we started that lap.”