Fired up Lewis Hamilton sings W15 praises: ‘A really big improvement’

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton has sung the praises of the Mercedes W15 despite a difficult qualifying session in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton believes a change of setup direction will stand him in good stead for Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton will line up in ninth place for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Mercedes teammate George Russell having stormed to third place on the grid just behind polesitter Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton was just two-tenths of a second slower than what Russell had managed, but the closeness of the field meant the seven-time World Champion finished near the bottom of a tense Q3 session.

Lewis Hamilton explains divergent setup choice

With Hamilton and Russell having different qualifying sessions, Hamilton explained that he had decided to run with a different setup choice on his W15 for qualifying – one that he reckons might pay dividends for the Grand Prix.

“Yesterday during my work, we were doing identical car setups, and I was feeling great,” he explained to media, including, after qualifying.

“We veered off – he went one way, and I went the other. You could say that the one I was on is not good on a single lap, but I hope it’s good in the race!”

Asked why he had decided to change direction and not run the same setup as Russell, Hamilton said the aim has been to improve his race pace.

“I wasn’t comfortable with my race pace,” he said.

“So I changed the car to hopefully make the race pace better but we’ll see tomorrow if that’s really the case.

“Trying to find a good balance because the race pace has lots of degradation with the rears and race pace is really everything here – position helps as well!”

With the Mercedes W15 throwing up plenty of sparks as the car bottomed out on the bumps of the Bahrain International Circuit, Hamilton dismissed it as a concern.

“I think everyone’s bottoming, I think the ride height was good,” he explained.

“It was a very tough qualifying session. Amazing to see how close everyone is.

“I think George’s position is a real testament to just how amazing the job everyone’s done at the factory and finally given us a car that we can fight with. I just wasn’t able to utilise that today when I made that setup change.

“I put something on the car that we haven’t put on for the last three years and I was hoping that it’d be okay. I just stuck with it. I was like, ‘I’m just gonna stick with it’. And yeah, it wasn’t nice to drive.” recommends

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Lewis Hamilton: We can definitely chase this season

Despite his somewhat disappointing day at the office, Hamilton couldn’t hide his exuberance and excitement about the potential for 2024 as he praised the step forward that has been made with the W15.

“The car is really fantastic,” he said.

“It’s a really big improvement from previous years – a lot more stable, a lot more fun to drive, but we still have work to do.

“To be three-tenths off, for George to be three-tenths off Red Bull is incredible. It shows what’s possible and I think we’ve just got to just continue to add performance.

“If that’s our platform from here, we can definitely chase through the rest of the season.”

Hamilton said that his good mood was reflective of where he feels Mercedes are in terms of performance overall, rather than being related to his qualifying end result.

“[It’s] a lot more excitement,” he said.

“In this moment, the first qualifying session – to be as poor as that after so much preparation went into this today and then things got away… but that’s racing.

“But, in terms of the season, for sure to know that we have a package that we can potentially fight with, is really pleasing.”

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