Lewis Hamilton ‘grateful’ for improved qualifying performance in Miami

Sir Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth for the Miami Grand Prix after an upturn in form from Imola.

Sir Lewis Hamilton appeared a relieved man after qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix as he ended the day sixth.

Saturday afternoon in Florida constituted the first time the Briton has made it into the top 10 in either qualifying or the race since Australia, and the Silver Arrows’ car has been an erratic one this weekend too due to its “porpoising” and handling.

Both Hamilton and George Russell were seen fighting the rear of the car as it continued to step out during qualifying, symptomatic of the poor stability we have seen in the early going of 2022.

READ: George Russell bewildered by poor Miami qualifying after Mercedes ‘flip-flopping’

It is for this reason, and the subsequent compromises the drivers have had to make, that they have been so far behind Red Bull and Ferrari this year.

Having struggled to extract performance from the W13 in Imola last time out, the 37-year-old was pleased to be able to look back on a good day at the office this time.

“Much better qualifying session than I’ve had for the last few races, so I’m grateful for that to be honest,” he said.

“I’ll take it. We just keep working at it – so much amazing work has gone on in the background, everyone’s working so hard.”

However, despite the aero upgrades Mercedes have brought to this weekend to reduce the bouncing and improve straight-line speed, the seven-time champion is still not seeing sufficient progress as the Brackley side look to encroach on the battle for the front-running positions.

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“Unfortunately I don’t think we are necessarily moving forward at the rate we would like to,” he affirmed.

“That gap is, I think, similar to at the beginning of the year, so we’ve just got to keep our heads down, keep working, keep focused, keep trundling – eventually we’ll get there.”

The transient state of cleanliness on the circuit before the grip falls away has been playing havoc with the drivers all weekend and, despite having set 41 laps during Friday practice, Hamilton is unsure how the Mercedes will cope better during Sunday’s race than it has done previously this year.

“[It’s] difficult to say,” he stated. 

“It’s not felt generally better this weekend, but today once I got the tyres into a better place it was feeling a little bit better in qualifying.

“For race pace yesterday I have no idea where we were.”

Russell ended qualifying in P12 as he slumped to his worst qualifying in Mercedes colours despite topping FP2 on Friday, so he was left confounded as to where his pace went.

“We’re a bit confused to be honest,” he told Sky Sports.

“My qualifying lap then was slower than I did yesterday in FP2 and the car felt completely different today, we’re struggling a lot with porpoising and I just couldn’t attack any of the corners really so it’s a real shame.

READ: Hamilton says Mercedes have a ‘spare driver’ as he threatens to quit racing over FIA row

“I think there was potential in there and we saw yesterday we were really quick and it’s just massively gone away from us today and I don’t really know why.”

Hamilton now leads Russell 3-2 in the qualifying battle in what continues to be an impressively competitive season between Mercedes’ new driver pairing.