“Worse than 2009” — Hamilton says the start of 2024 F1 season the worst in his career

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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After the first three races of 2024, Lewis Hamilton has labelled it as the worst start to a season he has ever had in F1. Despite everything, Hamilton does not lose optimism for the future.

After the two disappointing races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where he scored just 8 points, the Mercedes driver also struggled a lot on Friday in Australia as set-up difficulties and off track excursions was the story of practice for him.

In Melbourne, the seven-time world champion was eliminated in Q2 in qualifying, starting the race from eleventh place as both Mercedes drivers struggled for pace.

After a decent start, the Mercedes power unit abandoned him after just 15 laps, forcing him to retire. He had picked off Alonso at the start and undercut Tsunoda. If he had continued running and the race played out as it happened without him, a P7 was on the table.

Lewis Hamilton analysed the horrible weekend and start to 2024. First of all, the Englishman did not hide the difficulties he is encountering, and he has classified the first three races as worse than those experienced in 2022 and 2009.

In 2009, Hamilton had scored 11 points through the first 3 events (using the current points system and including half points for the race in Malaysia) in the extremely uncompetitive MP4-24.

“This is the worst start of the season I’ve ever had. And it’s worse than 2009, I think.”

It came at a stage in the race when Hamilton was making up ground on the cars in front of him and was about to place himself firmly in the points.

“I think it was fine. I had a new soft because I didn’t get to Q3 and undercut some of the drivers.

“The pace was okay. It was nothing special, but I was catching, I was slightly quicker than the cars ahead. And then obviously the engine failed.”

It was a problem that neither he nor the Mercedes engineers had any warning about. The seven-time World Champion had started on soft tyres as Mercedes looked to pit early and get him clean air to undercut the cars around him. It did work as they jumped Tsunoda.

“It just appeared out of nowhere. It was like a split-second thing. I didn’t feel it coming, it just went in one go.

“It was definitely frustrating so early in the race, I was hoping to be able to progress forward on a different strategy to everyone. These things happen.”

Although he was understandably disappointed at retiring so early in the Grand Prix, Hamilton kept his spirits high.

“Surprisingly, I feel pretty good. Really, I think I’m just trying to keep things in perspective. It could be a lot worse. I’m really grateful to be here, I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Australia.”

Although he’s off to Scuderia Ferrari next year, Hamilton is keeping a positive mindset and wants to finish strongly with Mercedes.

He is fully backing the team to get out of the rut they are in and make gains with the W15 in many areas.

“”I’m still enjoying working with the team. Of course, I’d love to be fighting for wins and actually finishing races. That’s never a great feeling when you come over this way and you don’t see even half of the race.

“But what I know is that we will bounce back, we will eventually get there. We just have to continue to chip away at it.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and be focused on this one thing. But the bigger picture is definitely the focus. Also just realising that you can’t control everything. You get frustrated because you don’t have control.”

In Australia, Hamilton said the W15 struggled in the low speed, the opposite to Saudi Arabia last time out.

On Perez driving away from him after the Mexican pitted, it opened Hamilton’s eyes as to just how far away Mercedes is from Red Bull and the other main contenders.

“There’s a massive gap. I think they have a second on us.

“He was on fresh tyres, but the way he pulled away down the straight, it’s the same as last year.

“We didn’t look terrible in the high speed but we were slow in the low speed.

“In the last race [in Saudi Arabia], we were bad in the high speed and good in the low. A real struggle this weekend.”

Hamilton is P10 in the Drivers’ Championship after Melbourne, a point behind Lance Stroll.