Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s principal, Toto Wolff, has claimed that Lewis Hamilton’s car setup in the Saudi Arabian qualifying session was an experiment, inevitably leading to the shock sixteenth place position for Mercedes’ most successful driver. A sixth place qualifying position for teammate George Russell was damage limitation for the German manufacturer, but the overall result was certainly not what Mercedes were looking for.
“That’s the second race of the season and another confirmation that we are not where we want to be, and need to be. On Lewis’s side we experimented with a setup that was worse, and the consequence was there was no rear grip and the car became [undriveable],” said Toto Wolff. “For George, I think today was a good effort considering we only had one soft tyre for Q3, so a solid job from him.”
“Nevertheless, the optimum scenario for us today was the no-man’s-land between the Red Bull and Alpine, and that’s certainly not acceptable.”
Andrew Shovlin – “The car did look better in race spec“
Trackside engineering director for Mercedes, Andrew Shovlin, claims that the W13’s one-lap pace is not as good as its race pace, meaning tomorrow’s performance is expected to be an improvement.
“We know we aren’t quick enough at the moment and Lewis exiting in Q1 is just a symptom of that. We struggled here on single lap pace, it was more of a challenge than Bahrain and we weren’t fast enough in Bahrain.”
“However, the car did look better in race spec yesterday than on single runs, so we’re hopeful we’ll have a better package tomorrow.”
“We know the races here don’t normally run to plan so there’s lots of opportunity to move forward and we’ll no doubt gain some useful knowledge along the way. George drove strong sessions and didn’t leave much in the car today.”
Mercedes will be hoping for an incident-free race for both cars on Sunday, especially for Hamilton, who will be starting towards the back of the grid. Last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix saw lots of incidents and disruptions, which need to be avoided if both drivers wish to be in the points. It is worth noting that Hamilton will be promoted to fifteenth, following the news that Mick Schumacher will not be competing in the race.