Mercedes duo can't explain failure to improve in second Q3 run

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cannot explain their lack of improvement at the end of Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, with polesitter Hamilton calling his final lap "really poor".

Mercedes duo can't explain failure to improve in second Q3 run

The Mercedes drivers locked out the front row for the fourth time in the 2020 season, with Max Verstappen continuing what he called his "subscription" to third place, in qualifying at Barcelona on Saturday.

But all three – along with Racing Point's Lance Stroll – did not go quicker on their final laps on the soft tyre in Q3 compared to the other six runners, despite Hamilton calling his 1m15.584s lap that ended up as the pole-winning time "solid" with places he "felt like I could improve".

When asked by Motorsport.com to explain why he did not go faster on his final lap, Hamilton said: "Not really sure.

"This track, there is track ramp and then the track temperature can vary and the wind can vary. But yeah, the first lap felt OK, but a little bit, in some areas, within the limit.

"So I knew that there was some areas that I could improve on. And then when I just went from the next run the tyres just didn't feel the same and the grip wasn't the same for me.

"So it was just overall a really poor second lap. But I kept going, but it was nowhere near as good as the first one."

Bottas set the fastest time in the second sector on his final run, but he ended up behind his first time in Q3 after a slower end to the lap.

"I don't think conditions really changed – at least it felt like they didn't really improve for the second run," he said of his last effort.

"I thought I was going to improve because when I crossed the line I was one tenth up from my previous time, but then obviously it went to zero, so maybe I just had a bit more distance – that's how the time delta works.

"I don't know – I thought it was a bit better the second run, but it just wasn't. I don't think the track really changed."

Hamilton also explained that he "made some really good changes and progressed forwards" during the overnight analysis following Friday practice, which led to him topping FP3 and then taking his 92nd F1 pole and 150th front row start.

"Each first lap [in every qualifying segment] was strong, which I was really happy with," he said.

"The one in Q3 was solid. I felt like I could improve, but I wasn't able to do it on the second lap [and] fortunately neither could the strong dude next to me!

"He's keeping me honest, it's obviously very close between us, so every millisecond counts."

But Hamilton feels "tomorrow is going to be tough when we get to the race" because of the pace 70th Anniversary GP winner Verstappen showed in the long runs in FP2, where the Red Bull driver appeared to be faster than the Mercedes cars.

Read Also:

"The scenario is different," Hamilton of the race.

"Over a single lap we seem to have the edge over the Red Bulls but this weekend I think we're pretty much on par when it comes to race pace.

"And so it's going to be a tough battle with Max tomorrow."

One of the keys to Verstappen's victory last time out at Silverstone was starting on a tyre one step harder compared to the Mercedes cars – a strategy Red Bull also tried in qualifying for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and in Hungary.

But all 10 Q3 runners will start on the same soft tyres for the Spanish GP.

"Basically [it's] because I think the soft tyre is good enough to start the race on," Verstappen explained when asked why he had not repeated the alternative Q2 tactic this time around by Motorsport.com

"Normally the softest compound is a bit more tricky, as it falls apart quite quickly, but I think it's alright at the track here."

 
shares
comments

Related video

Perez pins hopes on start for podium fight in Spain

Previous article

Perez pins hopes on start for podium fight in Spain

Next article

Verstappen explains why he didn't try contra-tyre strategy

Verstappen explains why he didn't try contra-tyre strategy
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Spanish GP
Teams Mercedes
Author Alex Kalinauckas
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals Prime

Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals

The tragic events of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix changed Formula 1 forever. Here, 17 of the drivers who took part explain how they coped with the devastating deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021