Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he had anticipated a “difficult” Qualifying session for 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Having looked strong in warm conditions during FP3, both Hamilton and Russell struggled in cooler conditions during Qualifying, which saw them qualify fifth and sixth respectively for a third-row lockout for Mercedes albeit nearly seven-tenths off the pace.
Hamilton though had anticipated Qualifying to be tough as he explained post-Qualifying: “We came here expecting this to be a difficult one for us but we didn’t expect a gap of eight tenths to pole position.
“We were losing six tenths today on the straights to the top cars. I gave it everything, so it’s a bit of a surprising result and just being so far behind Red Bull and Ferrari.”
Hamilton also pointed to the return of “bouncing” as another reason for their “lack of performance” as has been the case at various circuits this season, whilst brake temperature balance also caused further issues.
The seven-time champion is therefore hoping that his race pace will be better as he looks to avoid going an entire season in F1 without victory for the first time in his career.
Russell meanwhile is more optimistic that he and Hamilton will be “in a stronger position” for the race with “competitive” race pace.
On what he expects in tomorrow’s race, Russell commented that he is expecting “interesting” tyre strategies but feels that Red Bull won’t be beatable, although he is hopeful of chasing Ferrari down in a battle for a podium finish.
“backwards” In Performance
Mercedes’ Teamp Principal, Toto Wolff believes that the team has regressed just a week after winning in Brazil, as he said: “We didn’t get the job done right and went backwards in terms of our performance, while our competitors made a step forward.”
Explaining their poor performance, Wolff added: “We opted for a higher downforce and higher drag setup, and it was just too slow on the straights during the session. We’ve also had issues with the brakes that we need to investigate.”