Lewis Hamilton says his exit from the first part of qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was due to setup changes making his car “undriveable.”
The seven-time world champion was a long way off teammate George Russell’s pace in the early stages of Q1 and ended up nearly 0.7s adrift of the other Mercedes as he was eliminated in 16th place. Hamilton had already stated he was struggling to improve before a final run left him just short and says his own set-up choices appear to have backfired.
“I don’t know how different the cars are for setup, but the car was undriveable with the setup I chose,” Hamilton said. “It was my decision. [We] made some setup changes. [I] don’t know if that was everything to do with it, but it was very unstable, so I don’t know how it’s going to be tomorrow. It’s a long way back.
“Something in the setup was looking good in P3. [We] tried to progress in a similar direction and maybe we went too far, and it was just undriveable; so nervous.
“The car just wasn’t underneath me. It was in practice — was OK — but I just don’t understand it. It was just difficult to drive all of a sudden. Way more difficult than ever before.”
Hamilton says he expects a tough race because there are minimal changes he can make now the car is in parc ferme.
“We’re generally quite slow on the straights so I think it’s going to be a difficult race… (I’ve got) the same car as in qualifying so I don’t anticipate moving that far forwards but I’ll give it everything.
“The engine felt fine in the session. It’s clear the others have caught up but we don’t know how much is drag or just power.”
Hamilton may gain one position on the grid due to Mick Schumacher’s heavy crash in Q2 that saw the Haas driver taken to hospital for precautionary scans, putting his participation in the race in doubt.