The individual who has won the world championship seven times achieved a surprising pole position at the Hungaroring on Saturday, narrowly beating Max Verstappen by a mere 0.003 seconds. This marked their first pole position since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
However, even though the Mercedes W14 showed impressive speed during one lap, Hamilton was unable to prevent his performance from deteriorating throughout the duration of the Hungarian race.
Verstappen outpaced him on the way to the initial corner, and as he was pushed off track during the first turn, he ended up being passed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris as well.
After that point, Hamilton seemed to lack the speed to make a comeback. He was overtaken by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez but was able to pass Piastri towards the end, securing fourth place.
Although Hamilton’s performance fell short of his fans’ expectations, he expressed that he was not disheartened. Prior to the race, he had been informed that his car would not be capable of challenging Verstappen.
“I believe it is clear that we are not the fastest,” he stated. “Our car is not the quickest, but I am genuinely proud of my efforts and the work we put in to secure pole position and surpass both the world champion and the other two faster cars.”
“Presently, in the race, the situation is simply what it is. The truth is that we lack speed. During a strategy discussion earlier today, I was informed that I would be at least five tenths of a second slower than the Red Bull. Therefore, my competition was not with Max, but I had hoped to challenge the McLarens. However, it turned out that the McLarens were also too fast for us.”
Pole man Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, in the post Qualifying Press Conference
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
However, despite finishing in fourth place, Hamilton’s team manager Toto Wolff believed that Mercedes had the capability to perform even better. However, he acknowledged that a mistake was made by being overly cautious in preserving the condition of the tires at the beginning of the race.
Wolff expressed disappointment with the overall result, despite having the second-fastest car today.
“We must determine how we could have improved our performance. It is evident that George Russell made a remarkable comeback, surpassing both the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. Therefore, we simply need to examine and evaluate our approach.”
Wolff explained that Mercedes did not perform well because they were overly cautious in managing their laps. He mentioned that they lost a significant amount of time after the pit stops, but towards the end of the race, they were much faster than their competitors. However, Wolff acknowledged that finding the right balance between caution and performance was a challenge, and in this case, they may have erred on the side of being too cautious.