Hamilton: Mercedes was a "handful" compared to rivals in wet weather at Spa

Lewis Hamilton says his W12 was “a bit of a handful” in the wet Formula 1 qualifying at Spa, after Mercedes applied a set-up “compromise” covering wet and dry circumstances. 

Hamilton: Mercedes was a "handful" compared to rivals in wet weather at Spa

Unpredictable wet weather for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix has complicated matters for the drivers regarding the typical downforce-level balance needed to set the fastest times through Spa’s long, straight-heavy first and final third, and the more technical middle sector. 

Autosport sources suggested after practice on Friday that with the difficulty of predicting when it would rain for the rest of the weekend – it was at that stage suggested the race could be dry, at least compared to the soaking conditions for qualifying – teams would opt to set-up their cars for optimum performance in the dry and have their drivers cope with that approach in wet conditions. 

In the battle at the front of the grid, this would appear to favour Red Bull, which claimed pole with Max Verstappen, as its high-rake concept means the team struggles to reduce drag for dry conditions as the rear of the RB16B sits higher in the air, which in turn means it has more ‘natural’ downforce when using a dry set-up in the wet. 

This is likely what Hamilton, who will start the Belgian race in third behind Verstappen and Williams driver George Russell, was referring to in the post-qualifying press conference when he said “I think there are people with different downforce levels” compared to Mercedes this weekend. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“Just a tricky session for everyone one with the rain – it was more intense in different parts of the circuit,” Hamilton said of qualifying on Saturday. 

“A struggle I would say, for us, with our car today. We’ve seen with Valtteri as well.  

“Just the car was a bit of a handful today. But nonetheless I’m really happy to be on the second row and the points are tomorrow.”  

When asked to elaborate on his comments about his car handling in the wet, Hamilton replied: “Well, you know, there’s not really too much to say, it was just not a lot of grip out there for everyone and I think there are people with different downforce levels.  

“We tried to find the best compromise, the best balance for both potential circumstances today and tomorrow – in terms of dry and wet. And so, we hope we’re ok.  

“We’ll see what the weather is like tomorrow, and we’ll see how it works.”  

Read Also:

After ending up 0.279s adrift of Verstappen having led the way in the disrupted Q3 session following Lando Norris’s huge crash at Eau Rouge, Hamilton said he was confident Mercedes has better race potential. 

“I think our race pace should be a little bit stronger than our pace [on Saturday],” explained the world champion.  

“But I still think it’s going to be a handful nonetheless – particularly if its these [wet] conditions [again]. 

shares
comments

Related video

Norris could have “easily" fought for F1 pole before Spa crash
Previous article

Norris could have “easily" fought for F1 pole before Spa crash

Next article

Monza renames Parabolica in honour of Michele Alboreto

Monza renames Parabolica in honour of Michele Alboreto
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022