Lewis Hamilton Struggles For Grip, Only Manages P7

2021 Monaco Grand Prix, Saturday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

After struggling for grip throughout qualifying, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton could only manage to qualify in P7, setting him up for a long and frustrating race on Sunday.

With championship rival Max Verstappen set to start on the front row, the race has the potential to really shake up the championship battle…

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is forced to settle for P3 after a red flag curtailed his final qualifying lap and brought Q3 to a premature end.

Valtteri Bottas Denied Pole Position

On a flying last lap, Valtteri Bottas was set to snatch pole, but was denied the opportunity with Charles Leclerc crashing into the barrier in the closing seconds.

‘On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car – we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this. But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable. As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run – I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.
 
‘It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle,’ said Bottas.

Damage Limitation For Lewis Hamilton

With overtaking almost impossible around the streets of Monte Carlo, Sunday will be a case of damage limitation for Lewis Hamilton in his championship battle with Max Verstappen.

‘On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car – we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this. But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable. As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run – I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.
 
‘It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle,’ added Hamilton.

Frustration For Toto Wolff

With Bottas’ lap compromised and Hamilton’s set up not finding the sweet spot, team boss Toto Wolff cut a forlorn figure at the conclusion of qualifying in Monaco.

‘It was not a good day for us overall and we need to find out why we couldn’t get Lewis’ car in a happier place. It was a shame for Valtteri – he was two and a half tenths up on his final lap and had a great chance for pole but crashes happen here in Q3, it’s when the drivers are pushing the most.
 
‘For the whole day we struggled to generate grip with Lewis’ car and it cost him confidence in practice and that carried over into qualifying; we’ll work hard to understand why. With Valtteri’s car, he was happier in the morning session, could build confidence and his car seemed to be in a better window. Tomorrow will be a tight race, we need to stay patient and look for any opportunities to move forward,’ concluded Wolff.

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