Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Lewis Hamilton: Post-race disqualification “doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton crossed the line at the United States Grand Prix in second place, but ended up being disqualified after his rear skid was found to not be compliant with technical regulations. 

The British driver had a strong race in Austin, finishing about two seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen after a long pursuit. Hamilton was hopeful in the closing stages of the race that he’d be able to overtake Verstappen, but said that he was just a couple laps short. He praised the efforts of the Red Bull Racing team for their consistently “flawless” performance. 

“Firstly, congratulations to Max and Red Bull. They have done an incredible job all year long, they’ve dominated and been nearly flawless. We were catching them towards the end, though. I was hopeful that I could, but I just need a couple of more laps.”

Hamilton said that he was “really happy” with the outcome of Austin after a disappointing Qatar Grand Prix that saw him and team-mate George Russell collide, ending both their races. 

“There has been so much work to bring this upgrade here and it was difficult after the last race in Qatar. I really felt like I let the team down, so I had to go through such a deep process to get myself back to here. It’s one of those experiences of “it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up”. I came here in the mood to fight hard, felt great and I’m really happy with my performance.”

In reflecting on the race, Hamilton said that a win could have been possible had the team had optimized their performance. He was, however, pleased with the team’s progress over the weekend. 

“Overall, we still didn’t perform optimally today. We had good pace and I was feeling great in the car. It was tough racing those around me as they were so quick, but we can be happy with many things. I feel positive as we’re moving forward, even if reflecting on it we could have possibly won today. It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend.” 

“It’s been a scrappy weekend for me” – George Russell

Russell finished the race seventh, and was promoted to fifth due to Hamilton and Charles Leclerc’s respective disqualifications. The British driver said that there was more to be had on Sunday, but a tough start and difficult stint on hard tyres proved costly to his race. 

“The race start really cost me today. I lost three positions and then, and I don’t know why, when we put the Hard tyre on, I was massively off the pace. I had to manage the lift and coast too and I was just dropping like a stone. 

“When we put the Medium tyre on, suddenly we were amongst the quickest cars on the track. I closed over 10 seconds on Max (Verstappen) in that final stint. It’s disappointing when I definitely felt that there was the potential to fight for a podium.”

In spite the disappointing result in Austin, Russell is optimistic about the final four races of the year, with the car showing a considerable step up in pace. 

“The positive is that the car has improved. We have full focus on 2024 but we also know that the upcoming weekends should suit us more than here. We need to wait and see how we get on there. It’s been a scrappy weekend for me but I’m feeling excited and motivated for the final four races of the year.”

Credit: Jiri Krenek / Daimler AG
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