Hamilton and Mercedes MUST avoid qualifying mistakes for the remainder of the 2023 Season

Sir Lewis Hamilton shouldn’t be knocked out in qualifying for the remainder of the 2023 season, especially with equipment that’s more than capable of reaching Q3. The 7-time world champion qualified 13th in Zandvoort, compromising his race as a result.

A Q2 disaster in Zandvoort

For the second time this season, following Miami, Hamilton was eliminated in Q2 when a top 3 finish seemed easily attainable. During his Q2 out-lap, after pitting for a second set of intermediate tires, he found himself too close to other drivers, such as Norris and Sargeant. His engineer, Peter Bonnington, had informed him that there was ample space behind him since Charles Leclerc was at a considerable distance. With the conditions changing, the strategy involved completing a fast lap, then a slow lap to recharge the batteries, followed by another fast lap. Being among the last drivers on the track was crucial to avoid elimination at the end of Q2. However, Hamilton, initiating his lap closely behind Lando Norris’s McLaren, botched his first attempt.

He abandoned his lap in the first sector even though he was ahead of his previous time. From that point, his chances were slim. If he took a lap on his next attempt (the second of the 3 laps), he risked being eliminated by drivers doing a final lap. If he didn’t take a lap on the second of the 3 laps and a red flag was raised, he would be out. Hamilton did go for a fast lap, but by doing so, he ran out of tire and battery life for another lap and was eliminated in Q2.

A Missed Opportunity for Mercedes

This event represented a missed opportunity for Mercedes to position both its drivers within the top 4 grid spots. If Mercedes erred by positioning Hamilton too near other drivers at the onset of his initial lap, Hamilton should shoulder some of the responsibility for the session’s outcome. He ought to have better assessed the conditions and the inherent risks of tailing other drivers so closely.

In his post-race interview, he reflected on the race and his starting position, saying, “I think I didn’t really know how today was going to go naturally. And I sat here last night just really wracking my brain like ‘where did we go wrong and how did we end up in this position’. And then I was just then working on trying to figure out how I can progress this morning.”

Hamilton secured a 6th place finish in the 2023 Dutch GP. Prior to the race, he was a mere point behind Alonso, with scores of 148 to 149. Post-race, Hamilton’s tally stands at 156 points, compared to Alonso’s 168. Moreover, Hamilton was 41 points adrift from Perez before the Dutch GP; now, post-race, the gap has widened to 45 points.

The upcoming race is set in Monza, notorious for its chaotic qualifying sessions. Numerous cars seek to harness the tow from the driver ahead, resulting in a congested track. Given this scenario, Mercedes and Hamilton must tread cautiously to avert another elimination.

Leave a Reply

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: