“I just didn’t have grip” — Hamilton baffled by F1 Canadian GP qualifying struggles after having an “easy half a second advantage in FP3”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Mercedes’ struggles during the first third of the season has been a major talking point, but the Canadian Grand Prix marked a potential turning point for the team.

Throughout the practice sessions, particularly in FP3, the W15 displayed an impressive pace, with Lewis Hamilton topping the charts by almost 0.4s from Max Verstappen. At one stage Hamilton was 0.7s quicker than teammate Russell as he put in a stunningly quick lap on his qualifying simulation.

Despite this, qualifying itself brought mixed results for the team. George Russell secured a pole position in a dead-heat.

In contrast, Hamilton had to settle for seventh, marking his lowest starting position at a circuit where he achieved his first victory. The 103-time race winner was P2 in Q2 but fell away in the last session as he ended up 0.280s off pole thanks to a bad final sector on his first attempt.

After the qualifying session, Hamilton was asked if he had anticipated this surge in performance compared to earlier races.

“Definitely not,” he said.

“The car’s been feeling great throughout the weekend. Obviously, congrats to George.

“[I] had plenty of pace in it, obviously, through P3, and then as soon as qualifying started that just disappeared, the grip was not there.

“Yeah, really great for George and hopefully he’ll do the job tomorrow.”

Mercedes is known for making adjustments to their car in an effort to improve performance and anticipate track conditions changes, which has often led to problems in qualifying.

However, according to Hamilton, this was not the case on Saturday.

“Ah, I just wasn’t really quick in qualifying, I lost a ton of time.

“I reckon I lost half a second probably going into qualifying… Just the grip wasn’t there. I didn’t make any changes to the car, just it… All of a sudden the grip’s not there.”

A key factor in the car’s improved performance was the updated front wing, initially introduced on Russell’s car at the Monaco Grand Prix. Both have it this weekend.

The seven-time World Champion says it has not given them a lot of extra front end, more like a better balance through the corner.

“It’s not a more positive front, it’s just through corner balance, it’s much better.”

The weekend has seen fluctuating conditions that has affected grip levels and tyre temperatures. However, Hamilton clarified that these were not the reasons for his dip in qualifying performance.

“Conditions were great. Conditions were perfect.

“Just for some reason, tyres weren’t working the whole session. I just didn’t have grip. I had like an easy half a second advantage in P3 and that was gone”