Mercedes: “We need to make a quicker car as soon as possible.”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin explains Lewis Hamilton’s early exit in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Qualifying.

During the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton exited qualifying in Q1, for the first time since 2017.

In Mercedes’ race debrief, Andrew Shovlin explains what went wrong.

“Fundamentally, we don’t really understand the car yet as well as we do at the end of the year – we’ve only had two races with it,” the Briton said.

“We are always exploring the set-up with Lewis, trying to find a direction that delivers performance, and we’d found a good direction from Friday into Saturday that he was able to try in the third practice session.

“We went quite a bit further on that into the qualifying session, but ultimately it was a bit too far, so from the word go, he was lacking rear grip.

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“Jeddah is a street circuit, you need a lot of confidence, it’s very fast, the walls are very close and when you haven’t got the rear grip, the driver can’t have that confidence.

“Ultimately, we pushed it a bit too far, but it was a useful learning exercise.”

In the end Shovlin admits the fundamental problem is that Mercedes’ car is currently not fast enough.

“Fundamentally, the problem right now is the car is not fast enough and, unless we get it perfect, we are going to be at risk in those sessions.

“We need to make a quicker car as soon as possible,” he concluded.

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