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Other SportsLewis Hamilton: Ex-F1 champion 'not great' after taking 11th in Australian Grand...

Lewis Hamilton: Ex-F1 champion ‘not great’ after taking 11th in Australian Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton said he was feeling “flat” and “not great” after an 11th-placed finish in Australian Grand Prix qualifying which has ensured his lowest grid position of the 2024 Formula One season so far.

Seven-time champion Hamilton followed up being fourth-fastest in the final practice session by failing to make the top 10 for the first time in his campaign, later acknowledging that he has been “less consistent” than Mercedes team-mate George Russell, who will start from seventh.

“He is doing a better job with the car,” said Hamilton. “Three qualifyings in a row he has out-qualified me. He just seems to get on a lot better than I do. I’m just trying to keep my head above water and continue to realise it could be way worse.”

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Mercedes had been targeting progress after two seasons of technical struggles but have experienced multiple problems including the downforce of the car and its capacity at high-speed corners.

“I don’t know if it’s the wind picking up – it picked up quite a bit, same as yesterday – and then the car is just so much more on a knife edge,” said Hamilton.

“It’s just a flat feeling. It’s not great. It’s been a similar feeling for three years in a row. Then there are these spikes of ‘it could be good’, like this morning. Then it disappears.

“If we can find a way of [keeping] that goodness in the car, making it more consistent and holding onto that, maybe we can be more competitive. There’s lots of work we need to do but everyone’s working as hard as they can.”

Mercedes F1 results: ‘Difficult car’

While Hamilton has previously qualified in ninth and eighth this season, Russell’s second successive seventh place came after he started third in Bahrain.

Hamilton finished ninth in Saudi Arabia and seventh in Bahrain, more than 50 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen in the first race of the season and more than 47 seconds short of the championship’s dominant driver in the second.

“We know where we need to improve the car and that is in the high-speed corners,” said Russell. “Unfortunately, there are a decent number of those here in Melbourne, so this circuit is definitely not playing to our strengths.

“I do think we’ll be in a better place tomorrow, though, when everyone has the fuel in their car.”

Team principal Toto Wolff did not swerve the issue. “We have a car that is difficult and small changes can cause it to be outside of the working window,” he said.

“There is no simple solution as it is about the complex interaction between all the constituent elements of the car. It is frustrating that we are still saying this but we will continue to keep working on it.”

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