Using the damp conditions to qualify P4 for the Canadian Grand Prix, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton could not hide his joy.
2022 has been a rough season so far for Hamilton, the Mercedes W13 a shadow of the challenger he was hoping for, but at a Montreal track where he has won seven times before, the weather presented Hamilton with an opportunity.
Heavy rain fell for much of the day, easing off part way through qualifying as Hamilton set about using this leveler to claim a strong grid position.
Ultimately he would qualify P4, an achievement which left Hamilton overjoyed.
In past seasons that would have been quite the disappointment for Hamilton, but considering the current circumstances, it was the happiest he has ever been with a P4, the Brit comparing it to his first career pole achieved here in Canada back in 2007.
Tricky conditions throughout the #CanadianGP qualifying! 🏁
From heavy rains to a drying track, it was all there. Lewis will start tomorrow’s race from the second row in P4, George will start from P8. Let’s keep pushing, Team! 🤜🤛#WeLivePerformance #MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/M6hu1EGyZ7
— Mercedes-AMG Motorsport (@amgmotorsport) June 18, 2022
“Honestly I feel amazing, so happy,” he told Sky Sports F1. “P4 has never felt so good if I’m being honest.
“Maybe when I was in my first year racing here in 2007 when I got my first P1 in qualy, it felt great then, I think this kind of feels like that because it’s been a really really difficult year.
“And so to go through what we’re faced with today, it’s difficult for everyone out there. Really so happy to be able to have us there and put us in a position because everyone’s working so hard, and we’re constantly faced with these challenges with this car.”
Hamilton revealed that the experiments continued overnight with the W13, and that he and team-mate George Russell, who qualified P8, will be using slightly different setups in the race.
“The car we did a lot of work overnight,” said Hamilton. “We went two different directions yesterday, just to try and get information.
“George’s way it was just having to be a lot better, so the car didn’t feel that great through the session, so I think tomorrow we should be in a much better position. We have slightly different setups still for the race, but we’re in a great position. So hopefully I can try and hold position at least.”
Hamilton would explain that he believes himself to be a driver who settles into a rhythm, but the Mercedes W13 operates on a “completely different beat”.
This of course is far from ideal, but the wet conditions like those in qualifying open up opportunities, Hamilton taking full advantage.
“This car you need everything and more to come together,” Hamilton explained. “Honestly, it’s not normal.
“I like to think that I have rhythm and at this track and particularly in a session like that you need to have rhythm. I feel like this car works on a completely different beat. It doesn’t work on the normal beat so that’s been difficult to get used to.
“I think the rain makes it feel much different, I think if it was dry I don’t know whether we would be in that position. But the rain always opens up opportunities and I love this track.”
With pole seeming out of reach, Russell rolled the dice with a set of C5 soft tyres in Q3, that resulting in a trip into the barriers at Turn 2 as he was forced to settle for P8 on the grid.
But as he said himself over the radio, he does “not want to settle for P4”, team boss Toto Wolff praising him for a “strong call”.
“It’s high risk high reward,” Russell remarked to Sky F1 back in the paddock. “I think it was literally just Turn 1, had that been as dry as the other corners, we could have been in a really good place.
“Surprised my lap was still only half a second away from P4, we showed some really strong pace today, but as I said on the radio, I’m not here to settle for P4, P5, we need to try things.
“We saw it in Sochi last year where we took a risk with three of the drivers putting on slicks and I qualified third in the Williams, so I was thinking about that in the back of my mind. P4, P3 would have been nice, I definitely had the pace to do that, but the points are tomorrow.”