Hamilton, Russell, Wolff and Shovlin comment on Mexican GP Quali

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Toto Wolff and Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix Qualifying.

P6 for Lewis and P8 for George in a hard-fought but ultimately disappointing qualifying session.

  • Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified P6 and P8 respectively for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
  • The team worked hard overnight to improve the balance of the W14 ahead of FP3 and performance seemed more competitive heading into qualifying.
  • The session was defined by getting the tyre preparation correct on out-laps, a situation complicated by the short lap and requirement to respect the maximum delta time between the Safety Car lines.
  • Both cars used a set of Medium and Soft in Q1; a yellow flag on the final lap owing to a spin for Alonso saw Lewis finish in P7 and George in P12.
  • In Q2, both drivers made two runs on new Soft, improving strongly in the final runs to P1 and P3.
  • In Q3, some cars had two new sets of Soft tyres, while our drivers ran their lightly Used set for the first run, then their final new set on the final run.
  • Track temperatures dropped between the two runs and both drivers reported the tyres being too cool on their laps – although they made gains, it left Lewis in P6 despite being only 0.3s off pole position, with George two further places back.

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Lewis Hamilton

I’ve been struggling all weekend with the car and it has been a bit of a nightmare to drive. We’ve had to try and put the performance together piece by piece, and we made good changes going into qualifying so that I was much happier with the car. Q1 and Q2 weren’t looking too bad – especially the second run in Q2. But the car is just really peaky – sometimes it’s in the window, sometimes not. And I couldn’t squeeze anything more out of it on that final lap. The race is definitely going to be a challenge: we will be overheating the tyres and the brakes, so it won’t be easy to battle the cars around us. I don’t really know what kind of race to expect but it’s going to be on a knife edge.

George Russell

It was a bit of a shame to end up P8 because we showed signs of strong pace at points, but we didn’t deliver when it counted. We lacked consistency today – some runs we were strong, others not, so it was a confusing picture. On the final run, we had one set of new tyres and tried something different on the out lap, and it didn’t work and the tyres weren’t in the window. As for tomorrow, it will be hard from P8 – the brakes will need managing and PU temperatures are always a challenge, too. We came here expecting to be competitive and I hope we can make progress in the race, but it won’t be easy.

Toto Wolff

P6 and P8 are less than we had hoped for from qualifying today. We made some good steps with the car today, but we couldn’t put the lap times together when it really counted. Ferrari made a massive jump from Q2 to Q3, and you could see all the way through the session that it was all about fine margins – two or three seconds of out lap pace, and getting the tyres perfectly in the window, or just slipping out of it. On our final new tyre, it looks like we were a bit too slow and the tyres a bit too cool – but it’s just tricky to find that sweet spot. We are less than three tenths off pole, but it feels like a lot more given our starting positions. We showed some decent race pace yesterday – but we don’t know if that will translate tomorrow, after the set-up changes we made. But the only goal will be to move forward from where we start.

Andrew Shovlin

To qualify P6 and P8 is disappointing after we made good progress with the car since yesterday – and doubly so when the gap to pole is less than three tenths of a second. The field is just so tight these days and we were not fast enough when it mattered. It’s frustrating as the team worked hard overnight to get the car into a better place and it feels like we have made good progress, it’s just clearly not enough. It’s very difficult to know how the race is going to pan out; we’ve made enough changes overnight that our Friday long run data is not particularly relevant, but hopefully we’ve improved the pace. Ferrari certainly look like they have a good car here and, given the championship position, it’s important that we can stay in the race with them. Also, interesting that Daniel is up there. We’ve had good race pace recently but for many different reasons we’ve not been converting it into points. Hopefully we’ll do a good job of that tomorrow.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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