JEDDAH — “I am looking forward to going home.”
If ever a quote summed up the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend it was that from Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time world champion had gone out within the first qualifying session earlier than, most lately in 2017, however by no means like this, by no means on efficiency alone.
Hamilton completed in sixteenth place, seven tenths behind his team-mate George Russell, after an bold set-up selection that he mentioned made the automobile undriveable.
Throw in the four-hour assembly that stored him on the circuit till the early hours of Saturday morning, and during which his was one of many dissenting voices in opposition to the race going forward, no surprise he wished to punch his ticket out of right here.
To give himself some hope of ending within the factors Hamilton is contemplating ranging from the pit lane, a transfer that will permit him to revert to the settings used within the third apply session when no less than the automobile was balanced.
To his credit score Hamilton didn’t make an excuse of the tensions surrounding Friday’s missile assault in Jeddah, which was doubly commendable since he needed to settle for a choice to proceed racing that ran counter to his sentiments.
“We made a decision as a group and as a sport,” he mentioned. “We are professional. We block out whatever we have to.”
There was no blocking out the horrors of qualifying session ruined by modifications that he hoped may squeeze the final drop of efficiency from a Mercedes a second off the tempo.
Hamilton mentioned: “The car wasn’t underneath me. I don’t understand it. It was difficult to drive all of a sudden, way more than ever before. The car was very nervous. It was nowhere.”
Hamilton’s distress was compounded by the comparative success of Russell, who certified sixth, albeit a second off the pole time set by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. “When the other car is as quick as it is, it’s a disappointment. I want to deliver with my team-mate.”
And his prospects in race trim? “We are slow on the straights so it is going to be a difficult race. Nothing positive to take out of it. The car was undriveable with the set-up I chose. Maybe I pushed the balance to a place the car wasn’t happy. I kept losing the back end. I couldn’t go through the corners without the back end snapping out.
“For sure something is wrong but I don’t know what it is. We are a long, long way back. I don’t anticipate moving that far forward but I will give it everything. Maybe I’ll start from the pit lane. I don’t know if starting from where I am is going to be worth it.”