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Hamilton: Mercedes inconsistency ‘messes with the mind’

Lewis Hamilton said the inconsistency of his Mercedes car “really messes with the mind” after making a surprise early exit from qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion’s underwhelming start to his final season with Mercedes ahead of his move to Ferrari continued in Melbourne on Saturday as he qualified 11th for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton had described Friday’s second practice as “one of the worst sessions for a long time” but Mercedes appeared to have made significant overnight progress when Hamilton finished with a tenth of pace-setter Charles Leclerc in final practice on Saturday morning.

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Qualifying highlights of the Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park.

However, in the windier afternoon conditions at Albert Park, Mercedes lost performance and a scruffy lap at the end of Q2 saw Hamilton outpaced by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda before Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went on to take pole.

“It felt great in P3,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “It was strange because we were right there with these guys and we didn’t really understand why.

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Huge shock as Lewis Hamilton is knocked out in Q2 by Lance Stroll, who improves his time and knocks the Mercedes driver down to P11

“But then go into qualifying, it’s just another inconsistency within the car, it really messes with the mind.”

Hamilton explained that there is a “long list” of issues that are contributing to his early-season struggles.

“I think our car is on a bit of a knife edge,” Hamilton said.

“In the afternoon here the wind picks up, the same as P2. P1 was a bit better and then when the wind picks up, the car becomes a lot more unstable. And then this morning was nice with calmer wind, and then as soon as the wind picks up it gets a little bit less stable.

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Karun Chandhok takes a look at Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying lap after his shock Q2 exit in Melbourne

“But the other teams picked their pace up in qualifying. I’m not sure why, but the grid didn’t feel the same in qualifying. Even though we had lighter fuel, it felt better in P3. So it’s not a great feeling, for everyone in the team, but we’ll just keep cracking away.”

George Russell claimed seventh on the grid to establish a 3-0 qualifying head-to-head over Hamilton for the season, with the former well positioned to set the same score-line for race results on Sunday.

“George did a good job today,” Hamilton added. “It is what it is. I just have to try to do a better job tomorrow.”

More to follow…

Sky Sports F1’s live Australian GP schedule

The third round of the 2024 F1 season takes place on Sunday, with lights out at 4am on Sky Sports F1
Image: The third round of the 2024 F1 season takes place on Sunday, with lights out at 4am on Sky Sports F1

Sunday March 24

  • 12.30am: F2 Feature Race
  • 3am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday
  • 4am: THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
  • 6am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered Flag
  • 7am: Ted’s Notebook
  • 7.30am: Australian GP highlights
  • 8.30am: Australian GP build-up: Grand Prix Sunday replay
  • 9.30am: Australian GP race replay
  • 10am: Australian GP highlights (Sky Showcase)
  • 11.30am: Australian GP reaction: Chequered Flag replay

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Australian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 at 4am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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