‘I’m not having fun’ – Lewis Hamilton opens up on Saudi Arabian GP struggles with W15

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton looks tense ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with a prominent Mercedes badge alongside him

Lewis Hamilton has endured a tough start to his final season with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is not “having fun” at the start of the F1 2024 season amid his muted performances with the new Mercedes W15 car.

After two winless seasons in 2023/23, Hamilton and Mercedes are hoping to return to front-running contention in 2024 with the new-look W15 ahead of the seven-time World Champion’s stunning switch to Ferrari next season.

Lewis Hamilton not ‘having fun’ with Mercedes W15

However, Hamilton has failed to finish in the top six so far this season with the 39-year-old lagging behind team-mate George Russell.

Having qualified ninth – more than two tenths behind Russell at the season opener in Bahrain – Hamilton could only recover to seventh as Mercedes suffered overheating issues after misjudging the conditions in Sakhir.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, only Oliver Bearman’s mistake late in Q2 saved Hamilton from being knocked out early in qualifying, with the 39-year-old having another difficult race to ninth after electing to stay out during the early Safety Car period.

Onboard footage late in the race showed Hamilton being unable to keep up with Lando Norris in the high-speed sweeps of Sector 1 in Jeddah, with the McLaren streaking clear.

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Speaking to media after the race in Jeddah, Hamilton conceded that the opposition are “walking all over” Mercedes in high-speed corners, but is satisfied with the W15’s low-speed performance.

Put to him that he seemed to be having fun racing in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton said: “I wouldn’t say I’m having fun.

“I’m racing for ninth, so I definitely can’t say that. Finishing ninth is definitely not fun.

“But I am enjoying the actual racing part. I was hunting and I was pushing as hard as I could, I was maximising everything I had with the car, I was right on the edge.

“It was just unfortunately really lacking performance in the high speed, where they were walking all over us.

“But there are positives. The car is good in low speed. We have to add a lot of load in the high speed.

“I think if we were able to do that then I think it puts us in the fight, but we’ve got some work to do.”

Hamilton’s comments come after David Coulthard, the former McLaren and Red Bull driver, claimed he is “mentally already at Ferrari” having looked “unsettled” on track with the W15 in 2024.

Appearing in his capacity as a Channel 4 pundit in Saudi Arabia, Coulthard said: “He’s just not been settled with this car.

“And you can tell, you know, George is just honing the lap time right now and you can feel that Lewis is on the backfoot.

“What we do know though, if he does find a window of performance, then you know he will deliver.

“But right now, it’s looking like his decision to head off to Ferrari, mentally, he is already there.”

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