Up And Down Saturday For Mercedes In Miami

2024 Miami Grand Prix, Saturday - George Russell
2024 Miami Grand Prix, Saturday - George Russell

George Russell qualified P7 and Lewis Hamilton P8 for tomorrow’s Miami Grand Prix.

That came after both drivers battled hard during the morning’s F1 Sprint but were unable to bring home points.

Having qualified out of position in P11 and P12 for the Sprint, both drivers aimed to move forward. A first corner racing incident caused George to lose several positions. The rest of his race was spent in a DRS train and unable to make progress, coming home in P12.

Lewis meanwhile was entangled in a battle with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Ultimately, he would prevail and then pass Yuki Tsunoda on the final lap for P8. Unfortunately, a 20 second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane demoted him to P16.

Having made a number of set-up changes for Qualifying, both drivers were happier with the car and progressed to Q3.

The difficulty in getting the tyres in the right operating window proved challenging in the final segment though, with George using the Soft tyre to qualify P7 with Lewis taking the Medium compound to P8. That challenge was illustrated by Lewis’ best lap, set on his final run in Q2, being nearly four tenths quicker than the best either Mercedes managed in Q3.

George Russell

‘We were struggling throughout the whole of Qualifying to get the tyres into the right place. They work within a very small window, and we saw with Lewis in Q2 that, if we were able to get them in a better place, we had good speed. This is the same story for everyone though. We have to be realistic and, unless we get the perfect lap, P7 and P8 is about where our car is at currently. We know we have work to do and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

‘In the Sprint earlier in the day, I made a good start but got caught on the outside and lost a few positions. After that, I was stuck in a DRS train, so it was quite a processional race. Hopefully we will have a better Grand Prix on Sunday and move forwards.’

Lewis Hamilton

‘Overall, it’s been a much more positive day than yesterday. That said, these tyres are so sensitive and trying to get them to work consistently lap-to-lap is a challenge. The track temperature and grip was similar throughout Qualifying but we still struggled to deliver the maximum potential on each lap. We had that glimpse of what was possible at the end of Q2, but we couldn’t deliver it in Q3. It’s an area we are focused on improving.

‘I gave it everything in the Sprint; it was a tough battle out there. Contact is never intentional at the first corner, and I went for a gap. It closed quickly though and several of us connected. After that, I was fighting hard to get past the Haas of Magnussen, and I enjoyed the racing. The penalty was unfortunate, and it was a shame that it cost us that final point.’

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO

‘We have seen once again how difficult it is to get the tyres in the right window. We of course don’t blame the tyres for that, and we need to look at ourselves and our car to understand how we can get the tyres more consistently into the correct operating window. We were able to get it right at the end of Q2 and Lewis’ was P3, with just 0.15s off P1. Unfortunately, we couldn’t replicate that for Q3.

‘In the Sprint, cars that were quick on the straight but not necessarily through the corners were able to hold position. We had more pace but couldn’t show it. We therefore made some changes after the Sprint that will hopefully help us in the race tomorrow. We are starting slightly further forward than we were this morning so let’s see what we can do.’

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

‘The Sprint was disappointing, but we were realistic in our expectations given our grid positions. George lost out because of the first corner incident and couldn’t break through the DRS train. Lewis fared better off the line but then spent most of the race battling to get past the Haas of Magnussen. We knew we were on a high wing level and that would have been OK if we’d qualified further forward. Unfortunately, when you are racing in the middle of the pack, it isn’t ideal.

‘Going into Qualifying, we modified the set-up slightly and changed our wing level. The car was improved but it was still difficult to land the tyres in the right window. We don’t seem to be the only team struggling with that but when we got it right, the pace was strong. That said, we are well aware that we have a lot of work to do in order to improve the car. If we can do so, that should help us deliver that stronger pace more consistently.’

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