Lewis Hamilton felt he was left ‘compromised’ after his Mercedes engineers left him in the garage for too long after a disastrous qualifying session for Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion will start from 13th on the grid, his lowest-ever grid start in an American race, after he was knocked out of Q2 following an error in strategy from the Silver Arrows.
Mercedes opted to wait until the last moment to release Hamilton from the pit lane in an attempt to capitalise on track evolution, which saw plenty of drivers improve their lap times as the grip on the resurfaced track increased.
However, Hamilton found himself bogged down in traffic as other teams had the same idea and the 38-year-old was unable to prepare his tyres to put together a hot lap. And his frustration was evident in his voice as he told the team they were “too late” in allowing him to leave the garage.
As a result, Hamilton was some way off the frontrunners while his team-mate George Russell is well-placed in sixth to score some points in the Florida sunshine.
Sky Sports pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz weighed in on the incident that left Hamilton ‘compromised’, although he cast doubt on whether he would have made it into the Q3 knockout anyway.
“Mercedes haven’t been quick all weekend, or at least since FP1,” Kravitz said on Sky F1’s Ted’s Notebook. “George Russell complained of understeer. Hamilton lost two tenths on the final lap in his effort in Q2, and was out.
“[Hamilton said] ‘left it too late there, guys’. What that was about – they left it too late getting him out of the garage in Q2. It meant that he found himself in a little bit of traffic, which meant he couldn’t prepare his tyres the way he wanted.
“That meant the lap was compromised from then on. You see? It all leads into the other. Everything has to be perfect.
“Hamilton felt that, if they had got him out of the garage quicker, he would have had the time he needed to prepare his tyres as he needed to. Then his lap time would have been better.
“Would it have been enough to gain two tenths? Can they compete with Ferrari and Aston Martin? Certainly not here. Maybe they can compete for the rest of the year.”
Hamilton has finished on the podium only once in four races this season, collecting 48 points on his way to put him fourth in the Drivers’ standings.
And he will have a tough job keeping apace with the likes of Max Verstappen, who is already 45 points clear of his title rival, with Perez looking the most likely candidate to challenge Verstappen for the championship this year.