Lewis Hamilton was disappointed with his race but insisted Mercedes have ‘got a great team’ to try to put things right.
Hamilton briefly looked like continuing the surprise improvement he offered up in the Bahrain Grand Prix race last weekend.
He took third place in the season-opener and at practice sessions the Mercedes car looked more competitive than it had at times in free practice. However when it came to qualifying on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, he failed to get out of Q1 for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix back in 2017.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Verstappen and Leclerc threaten to consign Hamilton to obscurity
27/03/2022 AT 19:39
While he was able to move up into 15th on the grid courtesy of Mick Schumacher’s crash and subsequent withdrawal, he could only improve five more places to take a solitary championship point with a 10th-placed finish. Teammate George Russell improved by a single place over the course of the race to finish in fifth.
Hamilton had declared his car ‘undriveable’ after Saturday’s showing despite saying he would attempt to battle through the pack despite the disadvantages of his Mercedes.
Looking back after the race’s final lap, he admitted that he was less concerned about Ferrari and Red Bull ahead of him, and more worried about fending off the challenge from the mid-ranking Haas team.
"What I know is that today, I couldn’t keep up with the Haas at the end,” he said.
“The power they have, they came slingshotting past me when I overtook Magnussen earlier on in the race.
"We’ve got a lot of work to do for sure but I know we’ve got a great team and we’ll just keep our heads down and try to improve."
Teammate Russell enjoyed his travails but acknowledged he wanted to be putting in such intense efforts further up the grid.
"I’d probably say it’s the most physical race I’ve ever experienced in Formula 1, which was pretty cool to experience really,” he began.
"That’s what it’s all about, pushing hard on a mega circuit like this at high speed. I want to be doing this for victories not for P5 all by myself.
"We have work to do, but we maximised everything."
Across the paddocks, Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner was understandably happy with a win.
Red Bull looked on course for victory with Vertsappen last weekend, and a points finish for Sergio Perez, only to see both of the cars fail to finish with a fuel pump problem in the remaining few laps.
The team looked to have the pace again, particularly on the straights, in Saudi Arabia and their performance without reliability problems will give the team confidence that they are not going to suffer from technical faults on a regular basis, going on the most recent evidence.
"What a great race. It was an exciting last few laps and thankfully we just had enough to bring it home,” he said.
Horner continued by praising the performance from Verstappen, who performed with a much more patient effort than he might have done in past seasons when he was known for aggressive driving that more than occasionally crossed over the line of what was deemed acceptable by his peers and race authorities.
"It was a very patient race from Max, he looked after the tyres for the end of the race there and then after that last safety car, he really went for it."
"Ferrari have got a great car and great drivers. It was a really tough battle today and that’s what we’re set for when it comes to the rest of the season. It’s going to be, from what we’ve seen in the first few races, epic. "
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Verstappen 'really happy' with Saudi GP win, Leclerc gives 'respect' to champion
27/03/2022 AT 19:07
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Hamilton aiming to pass 'as many as I can' with 'undriveable' Mercedes
27/03/2022 AT 16:55