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Hamilton’s qualifying NIGHTMARE: Why the Mercedes star is struggling against Russell

Hamilton’s qualifying NIGHTMARE: Why the Mercedes star is struggling against Russell

Hamilton’s qualifying NIGHTMARE: Why the Mercedes star is struggling against Russell

Hamilton’s qualifying NIGHTMARE: Why the Mercedes star is struggling against Russell

Lewis Hamilton has been out-qualified by his Mercedes team-mate George Russell 7-1 times this season, a startling statistic for the 104-time pole sitter.

The champion appeared as an early favourite for pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix, but when Saturday’s session arrived he disappeared behind his rivals.

READ MORE: FIA confirm F1 team DISQUALIFICATION in Monaco shock

Instead, Hamilton could only set the seventh fastest time, with his team-mate once again beating him in fifth.

Monaco follows a familiar pattern for Hamilton in 2024, leading to the question - why is Lewis Hamilton struggling in qualifying this year?

Lewis Hamilton failed to beat his team-mate in qualifying for the seventh time this season
George Russell qualified in fifth in Monaco

Hamilton’s 2024 qualifying performance

Hamilton has described 2024 as his worst start to a season, and whilst Mercedes have been out-developed by their rivals, the champion has still underperformed compared to Russell.

The seven-time world champion had his worst session of the season at the Chinese Grand Prix, where he failed to get out of Q1.

"Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. This car is on a knife edge, as we know, so it can easily do what we have done," he said following the session.

Hamilton outlined set-up changes as the reason for being out-performed by his team-mate.

"We made massive changes going into qualifying, so George decided to go one way and it was much different to what we had -- we were both pretty much the same before.

"I went this other direction just to see if we can find something. It didn't feel disastrous, I just couldn't stop the car in Turn 14."

Set-up Experimentation

One reason for Hamilton’s dip in performance may be his constant experiments with the set-up of the Mercedes.

Frustrated with where the team are at in 2024, the Brit has tried to extract extra pace in qualifying with these changes, often having the opposite effect.

Former designer and now pundit, Gary Anderson, criticised Hamilton’s experiments in his column for the Telegraph.

READ MORE: F1 team boss warns star driver's seat under threat for 2025

Hamilton has experimented with the set-up of the Mercedes to try and improve their pace

“There is a knock-on effect that hampers the car’s development long-term, too. If you make odd choices on set-up then a team fails to find a baseline for performance and setup,” Anderson wrote.

“It limits learning about the car. If that is absent then the development path, knowing what to work on in the wind tunnel and improving aerodynamic performance, will be confused too.

“It leaves a team with no positive direction.

“This continues to be a recurring headache for Hamilton but he has at least an end date as he departs for Ferrari.

“In the meantime if he does not want to end the year as the second-best Mercedes driver he should look and learn from Russell and simply take the best out of what he has to work with.”

Hamilton’s move to Ferrari

Technical factors may not be the only issue hampering Hamilton’s qualifying performance this season.

The champion announced he would be leaving Mercedes and moving to Ferrari for 2025.

After revealing he would be moving to a rival team, it is natural that Hamilton will be left out of major discussions concerning Mercedes’ development.

Hamilton’s departure will also make Russell the de-facto number one at Mercedes, a role that may already be beginning at the team.

READ MORE: Verstappen misery continues as Ferrari set impressive pace

Lewis Hamilton will move to Ferrari for 2025

After qualifying in Monaco, Hamilton cryptically hinted Mercedes were displaying favouritism towards Russell, allowing him to trial new upgrades first.

“I don’t know if it’s a turn down or something but performance comes away from my car for some reason, so it’s frustrating that we’re seventh,” Hamilton said to the media, including GPFans.

“The small difference between the two cars is that George has the upgraded front wing so that created a performance difference, particularly in the high speed but for some reason as we got to qualifying, I had no more.

“I expect it now, every time I come into qualifying, I already know I’m gonna lose a couple of tenths.”

“I don’t anticipate being ahead of George in qualifying this year,” he added.

Whilst Mercedes could be starting to favour Russell, it cannot be the only reason for Hamilton’s poor qualifying performances.

The champion will be hoping that this is a product of a final and frustrating season with Mercedes, and hopefully not something that will continue at Ferrari.

READ MORE: Cullen ‘living’ with new star after Hamilton split


Mercedes Lewis Hamilton FIA George Russell 2024 Monaco Grand Prix
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