Lewis Hamilton is hoping Saturday brings good enough weather to allow qualifying to take place and give him a chance to rectify a difficult Friday at the Styrian Grand Prix.
The weather forecast is for severe thunderstorms throughout Saturday, which could prevent FP3 and qualifying from running as scheduled. In that scenario, Formula 1 will attempt to run qualifying on Sunday morning, but if conditions don’t allow that, the times from FP2 will be used to set the grid. Hamilton struggled to sixth-fastest on Friday afternoon, so is keen to get a qualifying session in.
“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” Hamilton said. “Starting further back than I was last week would definitely make it challenging. I’ll try to do the dry dance – if there’s a dry dance – to make sure there’s no rain for Sunday!”
Mercedes said Hamilton’s pace in FP2 was due to his being unhappy with his car’s handling, and the defending champion admitted it was tough to pinpoint the issue.
“That, I don’t know,” he said. “It felt relatively normal but it was quite far off; there’s a lot of work that needs to go on in the background. I was feeling good in FP1, and the start of FP2 felt pretty good, then it just started to drop off. Others out there are quick; Valtteri (Bottas) has obviously got good pace. Hopefully tomorrow we will be in a better position.”
With both Racing Points and Carlos Sainz ahead of Hamilton as well as Bottas and Max Verstappen, the six-time world champion believes the midfield teams could be closer to Mercedes in performance terms than they were at the opening round.
“It seems so, but again, we don’t know what’s happening in practice,” he said. “It does seem the others are getting pretty quick, or we’ve slowed down, one of the two. So we’ll do some work to try and figure it out. I hope if it’s raining we can still drive in the rain tomorrow.”
Regardless of the weather, Hamilton believes Mercedes could also be facing a similarly difficult race to last week, when gearbox issues pegged both he and Bottas back.
“Not (fixed) that I know of,” he said. “I think we still have to be careful. You can still damage the car quite badly over the curbs. Whether or not it’ll be as harsh as it was on Sunday, we’ll find out.”