After a positive qualifying at the Qatar Grand Prix on Friday evening, Lewis Hamilton endured a sprint shootout to forget on Saturday afternoon, ahead of the sprint race.
Whilst the seven-time World Champion will start from third for the main race, he’ll be slotting into 12th on the grid for the sprint, after being knocked out in SQ2.
Hamilton had two laps deleted in SQ2 for exceeding track limits; however, even if his quickest lap wasn’t deleted it would’ve only been good enough for P11.
He finds himself comfortably behind team-mate George Russell, who will start the sprint from fourth on the grid, two places lower than where he’ll start the actual race.
Russell has so far been comfortably quicker than the 38-year-old all weekend and is in with a real shout of finishing both the sprint and the race in the top three.
Hamilton will have his work cut out if he wants to score points in the sprint race, given that only the top-eight receive them.
Overtaking is expected to be very challenging, with only the opening corner likely to be an overtaking spot.
He entered this weekend having been the only race winner in Qatar, with the nation having made their debut on the F1 calendar in 2021.
It looks almost certain that he won’t be the only driver to have won in Doha come the end of Sunday, as he is slightly off the pace of not only Russell but also reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.
Several fans were quick to criticise Hamilton Saturday afternoon following his SQ2 elimination and identified his huge deficit to Russell’s SQ2 time.
“One second behind Russell. What a disaster!” said @Intraverno on Twitter/X.
“Pretends to be shocked,” commented @RacingStorki.
“Hammer time canceled today!!!” wrote @mretfs.
“He kept on having his laps deleted. Can’t keep it within track limits despite being the second most experienced driver on the grid,” said @dystainak.
Given just how much slower Hamilton was than Russell in the sprint shootout, one fan wondered if something was wrong with his car.
“What’s wrong with Lewis’ car?” asked @DameToGiannis.
“He’s clearly significantly slower than George and I doubt it’s skill..”