Lewis Hamilton says ‘sprint race doesn’t matter anyway’ after SQ1 exit

Sam Cooper
Lewis Hamilton speaking to the media. Austria June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton speaking to the media. Austria June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton said sprint races do not matter after his surprise exit from the first session of the shoot-out.

It appeared to be a case of poor time management on Mercedes’ part with Hamilton forced to try and navigate plenty of cars as he attempted to set a flying lap.

In the end, it was a step too far with Hamilton exiting the session in P18, his worst quali result of the season.

But it appears Hamilton was not too fussed about the repercussions of his low start in the sprint race as he declared them to have no consequence anyway.

“The timing was not right,” Hamilton said. “The sprint race doesn’t really matter anyway so today I’ll just have some fun from the back and it is what it is. I don’t really feel anyway about it to be honest.”

The maximum points on offer to a driver is eight but judging by their pace in Friday’s qualifying session, it would have been a tough ask to suggest Mercedes could challenge Red Bull.

It was also put to Hamilton whether he will discuss the strategy with the team later on but he said “there’s nothing to say.”

“We’ll just focus on our job,” Hamilton said. “Could have easily been much further up but I’ll just have fun at the back.”

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His team-mate George Russell meanwhile did make it through on a different strategy but that would be the end of his running as well with a hydraulic issue appearing on his car.

The Mercedes mechanics desperately tried to fix the issue in time to get him out during SQ2 but ultimately they were unable to with the team confirming Russell required a steering rack change.

Russell then will start P15 in the sprint, just three spots ahead of his team-mate.

At the front, it was another pole for Max Verstappen who continued his Friday form into Saturday morning. He was joined on the front row by team-mate Sergio Perez while the second row is occupied by Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg.

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