Lewis Hamilton Cites Setup Changes for Bahrain GP Qualifying Struggle

Lewis Hamilton attributes his subpar qualifying performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix to adjustments he made to his Mercedes F1 vehicle’s setup.

After leading Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in Thursday’s second practice, the seven-time world champion found himself starting ninth on the grid for the season’s opening race in Bahrain.

Hamilton trailed his Mercedes teammate George Russell, who secured a commendable third place in qualifying, just behind Red Bull’s three-time world champion Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, by 0.225 seconds.

“Yesterday George and I had the same setup on our cars, and it felt really good, but then we made some changes,” Hamilton explained regarding his qualifying challenges.

“He went one way and I went the other. You could say the one I was on was not good on a single lap. I hope that it’s good in the race.”

When asked why he decided on the change, Hamilton replied: “I wasn’t comfortable with my race pace and so I changed the car to hopefully make the race pace better.

“We’ll see tomorrow if that really is the case but trying to find a good balance for the race pace. There’s a lot of degradation with the rears and race pace is really everything here. Obviously position counts as well.”

When it was suggested to Hamilton that his car seemed to be bottoming out frequently, he maintained that this was a common issue for many drivers.

“I think everyone’s was bottoming,” he explained. “I think the ride height was good. I did generally think it was okay. Very, very tough qualifying session.

“It’s amazing to see how close everyone is and I think George’s position is a testament to the job everyone has done at the factory and finally giving us a car that we can fight with.

“I just didn’t utilise that today when I made that set-up change. I put something on the car that we haven’t put on for the last two years and I was hoping it would be ok.

“I decided to stick with it and yeah, it wasn’t nice necessarily to drive.”

Although he was disheartened by his qualifying outcome, Hamilton remains optimistic about Mercedes’ prospects, asserting that their updated W15 represents a “real big improvement” over its predecessors.

“The car is really fantastic, it is a real big improvement from the previous years,” he said.

“A lot more stable, a lot more fun to drive but we still have work to do as you can see. But for George to be three tenths off Max, it’s incredible.

“To know that we have a package that we can potentially fight with is really pleasing.”