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
Load comments
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021