George Russell qualified sixth and Lewis Hamilton 13th for the 2023 Miami Grand Prix. Despite overnight set-up changes, the Team’s struggles with car balance continued into FP3.
After both drivers progressed from Q1, the second part of Qualifying proved more challenging. With traffic hindering his out lap, Lewis ended up P13 with George squeezing through in P10.
In Q3, George set a banker time on a used set of the soft tyre which put him P6; this proved useful when the red flag ended the session prematurely following a crash for Leclerc.
‘The car is just not working for us this weekend. We’re struggling a lot with the balance and it’s bouncing around a little bit. The performance isn’t coming to us which is a shame as everyone is working so hard to achieve it. As the grip has been laid down and the track has improved, we’ve seemingly got slower. Clearly, this is a bit of an outlier as a circuit as can be seen by the pace of some of the other cars. Ultimately though, we need to do a better job.
‘I’m not going to take any pride in qualifying P6. We’re working for more and we’re capable of more. It’s challenging as in FP1, everything felt smooth. As the weekend has progressed, the feeling in the car has got worse. It’s rare that that happens but it just hasn’t quite come together here in Miami.’
‘It was a struggle out there as we weren’t that quick today. It was quite an up and down session; there were a couple of good moments where the car was feeling alive, and I thought we were going to be OK. It was frustrating that we didn’t get into Q3 as we should have. I was hopeful, but the timing at the end was just off. I got backed up by a lot of traffic in the final corner and just couldn’t get the tyres in the window. Overall, we just struggled with the balance of the car. I gave it everything I had but it didn’t happen today. I’ll now get my head down and try and come back tomorrow.’
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
‘In the end, the car we have right now is simply lacking performance – and our problems compound from there. It has a very narrow operating window, and it’s on a knife edge for the drivers. When it’s good, we can deliver solid performances. If it’s bad, then we struggle, and that’s what happened today. We can’t take satisfaction from being P6 when that’s only thanks to the red flag – and probably our true level was behind that.
‘Our lack of performance today was emphasised by how close the whole field is behind the Red Bulls. At points, there were almost ten cars within two tenths – and that means that every detail counts. In Q2, we were trying to give the drivers the best position on track, but we made a mistake. You could see in Lewis’ first sector that the tyres just weren’t there, and that ultimately cost him the chance to move into Q3. We will now see what we can do tomorrow and try to recover from our starting positions; there were some signs of stronger pace on high fuel, but we shouldn’t go into the race expecting miracles. It’s going to be a tough battle for points.’
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
‘We weren’t quick enough today. We had a bit of luck with George to finish sixth but Lewis, on the other hand, was disadvantaged by being stuck in a group on the out lap and couldn’t bring the tyres in. Clearly, we’ve not got the measure of this track. We started the weekend well when the track was at its worst, but as the circuit has gripped up it feels like others are getting the benefit and we’ve stood still.
‘We’ll put all our energy into preparing for the race now. The grid is mixed up so that may help us find opportunity to move forward tomorrow. If the degradation is high, or we get incidents, then we may be able to bring our second set of hard tyres into play which could provide some opportunity. However, the real opportunity will come from good long run pace. After the interrupted sessions, it’s impossible to know where everyone is going to fall out so tomorrow will be one of those races where we’re very much forming the plans as we go.’