In a nail-biting Q2 session at the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton found himself relegated to 11th place, courtesy of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s rising star, Oscar Piastri. The frustration boiling within Hamilton became evident when he exclaimed over the team radio, “there’s something not right with this car.” Meanwhile, his teammate, George Russell, delivered an impressive performance, securing fourth place in Q3.
Throughout the season, Hamilton and Russell have battled with the enigmatic Mercedes W14, a machine that has proven difficult to tame and trust. However, on the sun-drenched Yas Marina Circuit, where practice sessions unfolded under the scorching daytime heat and twilight descended upon the track for qualifying, Hamilton felt that the car’s inconsistency had reached unprecedented levels.
“It’s more inconsistent than ever before,” Hamilton voiced his exasperation, “It’s just up and down per corner from the moment you hit the brakes, the moment you turn, the moment you hit the apex. It’s massively out of balance and very hard to predict what’s gonna happen. It’s just a very unpredictable car. But it’s been the same all year.”
When questioned about his feelings on no longer having to wrangle the unpredictable W14 in qualifying, Hamilton’s response was candid, “I wouldn’t say I’m relieved, but I’m definitely happy it’s nearly over.”
Team Principal Toto Wolff echoed the frustration, stating, “I’m fed up with having explanations for why it didn’t go well.” He lamented the car’s inconsistency in varying temperature conditions, emphasizing that they performed well in the heat but struggled in the cold. However, Wolff expressed optimism about the future, with a new car set to debut next year.
George Russell shed light on the challenge of getting the W14 to perform consistently, despite his and Hamilton’s equal number of qualifying performances. “We’re joint on qualifying performances, but we’re never the same pace. Either I’m four tenths ahead, or he’s four tenths ahead,” Russell explained. This disparity underscores the difficulty of finding the car’s sweet spot.
Looking ahead to the 2024 car, Russell shared his optimism, “There’s a lot of small things we’re changing with the car, I’ve seen it in the wind tunnel. We’ll be making some steps forward, no doubt. But Red Bull are so far ahead at the moment. They stopped development months ago, so they’re going to make a huge step again. But I’m confident we’ll be in a better place come Bahrain than we were in the last two years.”
As the sun sets on this turbulent season for Mercedes, the anticipation for a more predictable and competitive car in 2024 is palpable, and both Hamilton and Russell are eager to put the inconsistencies of the W14 behind them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 Abu Dhabi Qualifying
Q: Why did Lewis Hamilton express frustration with the Mercedes W14 during F1 Abu Dhabi qualifying?
A: Lewis Hamilton voiced his frustration with the Mercedes W14 due to its extreme inconsistency in performance. He noted that the car’s behavior varied significantly from corner to corner, making it challenging to predict and control, ultimately leading to his 11th-place finish in qualifying.
Q: How did George Russell perform in the same qualifying session?
A: In contrast to Hamilton’s struggles, George Russell performed impressively during the F1 Abu Dhabi qualifying session, securing fourth place. This highlighted the stark contrast in performance between the two Mercedes drivers on that particular day.
Q: What did Team Principal Toto Wolff have to say about the car’s inconsistency?
A: Toto Wolff expressed frustration, stating that he was “fed up” with having to explain why the car’s performance fluctuated. He mentioned that the car performed well in hot conditions but struggled in colder temperatures. However, he expressed optimism for the future with the introduction of a new car in the upcoming season.
Q: How did George Russell describe the challenge of getting the Mercedes W14 to perform consistently?
A: George Russell explained that despite having similar qualifying performances to Lewis Hamilton, the two drivers often had significantly different lap times. This emphasized the difficulty of finding the car’s sweet spot and achieving consistent performance.
Q: What are the prospects for Mercedes in the 2024 season?
A: George Russell expressed optimism about the 2024 season, mentioning that there are several small changes being made to the car based on wind tunnel data. He believes these changes will lead to improved performance. However, he acknowledged that Red Bull was currently ahead and had stopped development, potentially making a significant leap in performance. Nevertheless, Russell remained confident that Mercedes would be in a better competitive position in the upcoming season.