Lewis Hamilton points to George Russell’s upgraded front wing for latest qualifying defeat

Oliver Harden
An overhead shot of Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of the Mercedes W15 in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton lagged behind George Russell in qualifying for the seventh time in eight races in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton has revealed that George Russell is running Mercedes’ only upgraded front wing at the Monaco Grand Prix after his latest defeat in the inter-team qualifying battle.

Following a challenging start to the season, Mercedes had shown improved pace throughout practice in Monte Carlo with Hamilton a fixture in the top three.

George Russell running new Mercedes front wing, Lewis Hamilton reveals

However, the seven-time World Champion had to settle for seventh in qualifying with a lap 0.078 seconds slower than fifth-placed Russell, who has outqualified his illustrious team-mate at seven of the first eight races of the F1 2024 season.

Hamilton, who has backed away from making sweeping changes to the setup of his car over recent weeks, pointed to Russell’s new front wing as the reason behind his latest defeat – claiming he was “automatically” two tenths down on his team-mate heading into qualifying.

Asked if he was disappointed not to be higher on the grid, he told Sky F1: “For sure, for sure. It was looking great yesterday.

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“We’ve really been working hard to improve this car and from the get go it felt great and we were obviously competitive yesterday and this morning.

“We’re not making any drastic changes or anything like that.

“The team have worked really hard back at the factory to bring an upgrade in the last two races and also an update this weekend – but we only have one, which George has.

“So I anticipated it would be difficult to outqualify George because he has the upgraded component, but it’s just great to see that we are bringing upgrades.

“But once we get to qualifying, I don’t understand.

“I already know automatically that I’m going to lose two tenths going into qualifying.

“That’s definitely frustrating and something that I don’t really have an answer for at the moment.

“I’m not driving any differently, the laps were really great. I’m just lacking something.”

Hamilton has been encouraged by Mercedes’ progress after a tough start to the season, but claimed Russell’s three-tenth deficit to Charles Leclerc’s pace-setting Ferrari is likely to be magnified at more conventional circuits.

And Hamilton claimed that is is unlikely to challenge Russell in qualifying conditions for the remainder of the F1 2024 season.

With Hamilton moving to Ferrari in F1 2025, it is unclear whether Russell now has upgrade priority at Mercedes.

Asked if Monaco could be a turning point in Mercedes’ season, Hamilton said: “From the team’s perspective, yes.

“I definitely think we, for some reason, are a lot closer this weekend. It’s really great to see. The car was feeling great, so much better than previous years.

“But still, three-and-a-half tenths is a lot here. And that’s still six tenths elsewhere, so we still are off pace-wise.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing. We will slowly get closer through the year as more upgrades come.

“I don’t anticipate being ahead of George in qualifying particularly this year, but we’ve just got to just keep pushing and the races are strong.”

Asked why he is unlikely to challenge Russell in qualifying all season, Hamilton smiled and added: “We’ll see.”

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