Karun Chandhok reveals Lewis Hamilton’s ‘awful’ feeling amid Mercedes woes

Hamilton qualified only 11th for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after a disappointing qualifying in Melbourne

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Saturday 23 March 2024 08:49 GMT
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Lewis Hamilton will be experiencing an “awful feeling” in his Mercedes car, explained Karun Chandhok after another tough day on track for the seven-time world champion.

Hamilton, who has not won a race for more than two years, has a record eight pole positions at Albert Park in Melbourne but struggled in Saturday’s qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Despite signs of promise in the final practice session, Hamilton failed to reach the final stage of qualifying and will start Sunday’s race 11th on the grid – his worst starting spot in Melbourne since 2010.

Hamilton, who is leaving for Ferrari next year, went on to detail the “long list” of issues with the W15 Mercedes car, with the former titans of the sport unable to reel in the gap to Red Bull out in front in the last two years.

Chandhok, a former F1 driver with 11 races to his name from 2010-2011, explained the rather helpless feeling Hamilton will be experiencing amid his team’s woes.

“It’s an awful feeling as a driver,” Chandhok said on Sky Sports. “You want to know how the car is going to react, what the feeling is through your hands and backside.

“If you have any hesitation, you immediately back off a bit. Then you start to bleed lap time.

“He [Lewis] is not able clearly in his own mind able to know what’s going to happen. It’s just the cycle they [Mercedes] are in.”

Hamilton told Sky after qualifying: “The car felt great in P3 [third practice], we were right there with these guys, but going into qualifying, another inconsistency with the car.

“It really messes with the mind. George [Russell] did a great job today, it is what it is, I have to do a better job tomorrow.

Karun Chandok detailed how Lewis Hamilton will be feeling in his Mercedes W15 (Getty Images)
Hamilton is not a fan of his Mercedes car (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP) (AP)

Hamilton said on Friday that second practice in Australia was one of his “worst sessions” for a long time. Asked what the issues are with this year’s W15 car, Hamilton replied after qualifying: “There’s a long list. Our car is on a bit of a knife-edge.

“When the wind picks up, it becomes more unstable. Others pick up their pace in qualifying, but the grip wasn’t there - it felt better in P3.

“It’s not a great feeling for anyone in the team but we’ll keep working away.”

Hamilton has not won a race since December 2021 and, with team-mate George Russell qualifying in seventh, the seven-time champion has not qualified above his compatriot in the last five races.

Max Verstappen took his third pole position of the season, maintaining his perfect qualifying record, with Carlos Sainz in second and Sergio Perez in third.

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