Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton explained the challenges of the current Mercedes 2021 challenger in an exclusive to BBC Sport F1. The Briton claimed the current Mercedes W12 is very difficult to set-up and to further optimize it in terms of performance.
Speaking to Andrew Benson of BBC Sport F1, Lewis Hamilton explained the challenges of his 2021 F1 car and said:
"I would say I've been more committed than I've ever been. What I've noticed this year is that the car has been very, very hard to set up. This one is a monster of a diva. It's been harder to get the car in the right [set-up] window. And when you don't get the car in the right window, you just limit your potential.”
According to the seven-time world champion, their team has not been able to optimize the car to unleash its potential for the majority of the year. Citing his performances throughout the season, Lewis Hamilton admitted that different tracks and different scenarios have posed their own unique challenges in terms of the driveability of his car.
Hamilton feels his Mercedes car needs a more accurately optimized setup
According to the Mercedes driver, the car has performed differently in different scenarios, and not being able to optimize it correctly cost him performance and points several times this season.
Explaining his car's performance in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton explained the setup issues and said:
“So I'm just not able to maximize my ability through the set-up not being in the right place, and it's been very, very hard to get it into the right place. In Brazil, I got the car exactly where I wanted. And that was like literally hitting the nail on the head. But we've done that maybe once or twice this year. Most of the time, we're not optimising it.”
In a general overview of Lewis Hamilton's performance over the course of this season, there have been inconsistencies with his car balance and even tire management issues. That affected his performance. However, his last two races have translated well in terms of the Mercedes car functioning efficiently around the respective circuits.
Lewis Hamilton's qualifying pace at Qatar does not define his rival Verstappen's pace deficit
Lewis Hamilton's pole lap in Qatar was more than just his car's performance. It indicated more of how much he extracted from a limited window and further made a difference with his driving. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, seemed to have the pace until he encountered traffic and yellow flags.
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While his penultimate attempt in the qualifying session helped him clinch pole position 0.5 seconds ahead of Verstappen, a factor that was overlooked was that he went out first on a clean track and his Dutch rival encountered traffic towards the end. So the pace deficit between the two could have been lesser under different circumstances, and so would the outcome.