Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton commented on the pace shown by Mercedes during qualifying at Suzuka admitting the team is simply “not quick enough”. The Brit will start tomorrow’s Japanese GP from seventh.
Qualifying in Suzuka saw the return to the pole position of Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen, who conquered the front spot for tomorrow’s Japanese GP in a spectacular show of force, setting aside the problems experienced by Milton Keynes in Singapore. Behind him, the McLaren duo will occupy the second and third positions with Oscar Piastri completing the front row. Hence the Mercedes duo, with Hamilton in front of Russell, will start from the fourth row behind both Red Bulls, McLarens, and Ferraris.
Commenting on the results, 7-times World Champion and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton limited hopes and expectations ahead of the race, as he told Formula 1: “Think we are just going to struggle like everybody else. It’s going to be tough tomorrow.”
Hamilton: “To be a second behind at Suzuka is crazy”
Amid a difficult weekend, the Brit did however recognize the progress made by the team since Friday: “Yesterday was horrendous but [we] made some good changes overnight, and the car was feeling really good today, so I was much happier with it. Unfortunately, we are just not quick enough, [so] we just have to keep working away.”
Qualifying results saw Verstappen pull a gap of 0.581 to second-placed Piastri. The gap to Hamilton is even wider at more than one second, although the actual gap to the second Red Bull car with Perez was only +0.258.
Hamilton went on to explain Mercedes’ struggles, as the difference in performance from leading team Red Bull is more and more obvious: “We are a long way away on rear downforce so that’s why we are so slow in the first sector. The laps felt really good, but we are just one second away, which is like crazy. To close that gap for next year, at this point to still be a second down on the track like this is definitely worrying for us as a team.”
Headline Image: Mercedes
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