Lewis Hamilton hopes George Russell can go on and score a first Mercedes victory of F1 2023 in Singapore after being disappointed with his own performance.
Russell had the upper hand on his seven-time World Champion team-mate throughout qualifying at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, ultimately falling narrowly short of claiming pole position.
That honour went to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, but falling just 0.072s short of Sainz’s benchmark, he was able to deny the Scuderia a front-row lockout.
Lewis Hamilton admits he was “just so slow”
Speaking to Sky F1 following qualifying, Hamilton said that the Mercedes W14 is proving to be a “great package” in Singapore, but admitted it was Russell who got the best out of it in qualifying, rather than himself as he managed only P5 on the grid.
And with Red Bull all out of sorts this weekend, neither Max Verstappen nor Sergio Perez making it into Q3, Hamilton hopes Russell can drive on to victory from the front row, with Red Bull having won every race so far in F1 2023.
“I think today, we had a really great package here, the car was feeling incredible yesterday,” said Hamilton.
“And there was so much hope that with some tweaks we would be able to challenge the Ferraris. Obviously one of the cars was able to do that and I wasn’t today.
“Made big changes overnight and just went away from me again. I was just so slow today.
“So it was definitely obviously disappointing. But tomorrow’s a new day, so I really hope George gets a great start tomorrow and puts some pressure on those Ferraris. It would be great for him to get a win.”
Lewis Hamilton urged to see the positives
It has not been an easy ride for Hamilton and Mercedes in recent years, the Brit without a victory since Saudi Arabia 2021, though former IndyCar and NASCAR racer Danica Patrick believes Hamilton should see the positives of Singapore qualifying.
Acknowledging that Hamilton was down in the dumps about being P5 on the grid, she said it is not long ago that such a result would have been seen as a strong one by Hamilton, as Mercedes attempt to claw their way back to the front of the Formula 1 grid.
“George has just been really consistently faster than Lewis,” said Patrick.
“But you know, I actually look at this and I think, Lewis is bummed, really disappointed that he had a fifth place in qualifying and he said he was way off, but not that long ago, he would have been happy with that.”
With Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso set to start two places behind him on the grid, Hamilton does have a good opportunity to close in on the Spaniard who holds P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, the gap between them only six points.