- Lewis Hamilton failed to get a car to Q3 for the first time since 2012 after finishing position thirteen
- Hamilton’s teammate George Russell stated that he struggled chiefly with tyre temperature through qualifying at Imola
- The seven-time world champion will start Saturday’s Sprint race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from a lowly 13th
- The Formula One star admitted that they underperformed and that there were some things they did that they should not have done
Lewis Hamilton has criticised his Mercedes team for “underperforming”. He claims he and teammate George Russell will need to “save” themselves at the Emilia Romagna GP after being eliminated in Q2 on Friday.
In Imola, Hamilton and Russell just made it through Q1 until an untimely red flag destroyed their slim chances of making it to the final qualifying round.
Mercedes has not failed to get a car into Q3 since the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, a ten-year low.
“I think we underperformed today as a team,” Hamilton said. “There are some things we should have done but didn’t.”
The eight-time manufacturers’ champions have had a poor start to the season under F1’s radical new design regulations.
In Italy, any hope that wet weather would help them reduce the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull was crushed.
Hamilton, who is chasing his eighth world title, looked disappointed after qualifying 13th, two places behind Russell, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking pole ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“It wasn’t a great session,” he added. “Naturally, it’s disappointing.
“We came here with optimism, and you know everyone is working hardback at the factory, but things just don’t come together.”
The fact that Imola is hosting the season’s first Sprint on Saturday means Mercedes will have the chance to improve their starting position for Sunday’s race, with warmer weather expected.
“We will work as hard as we can to move up in the Sprint, it’s going to be a difficult race, but hopefully tomorrow is better weather-wise, and who knows, maybe we can move our way forwards.
Hamilton and Russell will have the opportunity to advance during tomorrow’s 21-lap sprint race, determining the grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday.
When asked if the sprint meant there was still a chance of saving the weekend, Hamilton said:
“We’ll keep working. It is what it is. Each weekend is a rescue.”
Russell complains on latest Mercedes woes
Russell also doubted that the sprint race would provide much of an opportunity for Mercedes to advance, citing the scarcity of overtaking opportunities in Saturday races.
Five red flags were raised throughout the practice because of the chilly and wet track conditions, preventing Mercedes from receiving the extra time to warm up their tyres.
“We always struggled a little bit to get the temperature in the tyre, and we’re always seemingly taking a bigger jump on the second lap,” Russell said.
“We saw that in Australia compared to the Alpines and McLarens; they were first lap qualifiers, and we had to do it on the third or fifth lap, doing the fast-slow-fast consecutive sequence.
“So it was a bit of a shame with how red flag panned out today, but if there is a weekend not to be where we want to be, the sprint weekend is the one to do it. “It will be tricky going into the race tomorrow,” Russell said.
“Usually, in these sprint races, not so much happens. It’ll be interesting with these new cars if we follow closely.
“It’s not ideal, but we’ve got the chance to recover those positions tomorrow.”
After a difficult start to the season, Toto Wolff told Sky Sports that Mercedes were up for the challenge, despite the nature of their task being apparent again in qualifying.
“It will be tricky going into the race tomorrow,” Russell added. “Usually, in the sprint races, not so much happens.
“It will be interesting with these new cars if we can follow a bit closer.
But I don’t think there are enough laps with enough degradation for us to take our advantage where we’re generally more vital compared to our current rivals, which this weekend aren’t the top two teams.
“Let’s see what we can do; we have got Sunday as well and can only go up.”
After dropping out of Q2, Hamilton was seen conversing with Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff at the rear of the garage, but he refused to reveal the details of their chat.
“It’s all internal stuff,” Hamilton said. “So I’d rather not share that.”