Hamilton, Russell and Shovlin comment on Sao Paulo GP Qualifying

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix Qualifying.

Dramatic rain-affected session sees both cars qualify on the third row for Sunday’s race

  • Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth and George Russell sixth for Sunday’s São Paulo Grand Prix.
  • The team focused on a mixture of single lap and long run pace during the solitary hour of practice at Interlagos, as the engineers and drivers worked together to fine-tune setup.
  • Q1 and Q2 proved incredibly tight with just 0.5s covering P1 to P17 in the former, and 0.35s blanketing fastest to P10 in the latter session.
  • Both Lewis and George used two new sets of the Soft tyre in both of these segments to progress to Q3.
  • Throughout qualifying, there had been a lingering threat of rain. That threat increased as Q3 started, and all 10 cars were quick to take to the track.
  • Having queued at the end of the pitlane, Lewis and George went P5 and P6 on their flying laps as the rain began to fall.
  • Whilst they suffered from a lack of tyre temperature, getting out earlier than others did ensure both outqualified the McLarens, the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
  • We return to the circuit on Saturday for the Sprint Shootout and the F1 Sprint with points up for grabs.
Lewis Hamilton

P5 is never going to feel that great. I did the best I could though and hopefully we will have a better race on Sunday. The car was showing signs of decent performance, but we did seem to be a couple of tenths off the guys right at the very front. We made a few changes ahead of qualifying and it did seem to make the car a little nicer to drive. In general though, it wasn’t particularly fast. Having said that, the conditions and circumstances at the end of Q3 have maybe put us slightly further back than our true pace would have showed. It is difficult to say with any confidence though. Over the rest of the weekend, I think we’ve got a bit of a battle on our hands. Overheating with brakes and managing tyres will be important but if we can use our strategy to progress forward, then we will do that.

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George Russell

The weather today was absolutely crazy! I’ve never seen it change so drastically as that during Q3. I was really disappointed with my final push lap. I was sliding around and had no grip. I didn’t see that much rain on my visor, but I was one second off and I wanted to pit for new tyres as I was confident that I would be last. We ended up P6 though which, whilst the lap was disappointing and frustrating, it’s not a bad place to start. The team did a great job, and the car has been performing well here. We also know race pace is more important than single lap pace here. We will still be aiming to get on the podium. Aston Martin have been quick today, and will start ahead of us, but I hope our long run pace is better than theirs. I expect there to be multiple pitstops during the race on Sunday, so it’s all to play for. Let’s see how we perform over the rest of the weekend.

Andrew Shovlin

We had a useful FP1 with plenty of focus on the long run. That is very important here and the car seemed to be working well although as always, it’s tough on the tyres here when the track is hot. Qualifying was tight but that’s normal with how competitive the entire grid is these days. Even so, we’d managed to get both cars through to Q3 with two new sets of soft tyres still available for each. It looked like we were in the hunt for the top three spots.

For what turned out to be our final run, we left the garage early and queued at the end of the pitlane. It was clearly right to be at the front of the pack, but we’d lost too much tyre temperature whilst waiting for the green light. We therefore didn’t have good grip opening the lap; that was particularly costly given that the circuit had started to get damp from the rain. It was frustrating to end up P5 and P6, but if we can get through the Aston Martins in the early stages of Sunday then we’ll be in the fight for a podium. Before that though, we’ve got Saturday’s standalone sprint format to get on top of and there are some useful points available. We will be working hard to maximise that opportunity.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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