Sir Lewis Hamilton has taken the silver lining out of Mercedes’ struggles during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
Hamilton was knocked out of qualifying in the first phase on Saturday, but eventually recovered up the order to end the race 10th and take a point from the 305-kilometre race while team-mate George Russell managed fifth as he maximised the performance of the Mercedes car.
A Safety Car after Nicholas Latifi’s crash put both him and Kevin Magnussen out of position as they had started on the Hard tyres but, having initially laboured with the grip at his disposal, he ended up running at a good pace in the latter stages of his prolonged first stint.
“I struggled at the beginning with the tyre temperatures but then it started getting a bit better and I started to gain on the guys up ahead,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“They were on the Medium tyres and they started to drop off, so it was a really good stint and I think I was doing pretty much the same times as George, who had new Hards.”
However, he was unable to pit when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed as a legacy of reliability failures for both Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso, and this ultimately cost him time when he eventually came in for his stop, as the pit lane was closed while the marshals cleared the stricken cars.
He rejoined the race outside the points and behind Kevin Magnussen, who had stopped before the closure, and having passed the Haas, found the Ferrari-powered car sailing back past him again.
“I was feeling good at that point and then it all hit the fan during those cars stopping,” he lamented with a chuckle.
“I have to speak to the team but it’s definitely gutting but I got one point at least and we’ll work hard… we both got points for the team.”
The fact that Haas, who were 3.38% slower on average over a lap than Mercedes last year, were able to compete with Mercedes this weekend makes the Briton acutely aware that his team has work to do.
“Not much has changed really since the last race, it’s only been a few days,” he explained.
“All I know is that at the end I couldn’t keep up with the Haas at the end. The power they have, they came slingshotting past me when I overtook Magnussen earlier in the race so we’ve got a lot of work to do for sure.
“But I know we’ve got a great team and we’ll just keep our heads down and try to improve.”
Hamilton claimed a podium last week in Bahrain but was a substantial margin adrift of that form in Jeddah, although the “easy gains” anticipated by the Silver Arrows will give the Brackley side hope that improvements are on the horizon.