Why is Lewis Hamilton slower than George Russell in qualifying this season?

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during day one of 2023 F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during day one of 2023 F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

F1 pundit Mark Hughes recently explained why Lewis Hamilton is struggling with the Mercedes W14 and losing to his teammate George Russell in several qualifying sessions in the 2023 F1 season. The seven-time world champion himself has expressed how he does not feel connected to the car and is unable to perform well because of it.

Speaking on The Race F1 podcast, Hughes initially mentioned that both drivers are quite evenly matched in most qualifying sessions. He also explained Hamilton's driving style and how it does not suit the 2023 car.

Hughes further stated how Hamilton felt he was sitting too far forward in the W14, to the point where he could not decipher how the rear end of the car was moving and behaving. He said:

"Normally you'd expect to see them extremely closely matched. Certainly, at Jeddah, it was in the order of three tenths or more in qualifying. And, I mean, the way that Lewis tends to drive very, very late and hard on the brakes, very aggressive on the steering and following that geometric line through the corner rather than early turning that Max Verstappen tends to favor."

Hughes added:

"And for that, you rely pretty much on your steering input. You going to need a lot of feedback in a very short amount of time, because you have to be quick with the steering reaction. And he just feels he is too far forward to be able to feel what the rear is doing early enough. It just does not give him that nice feeling where he is confident, he knows what the rear is doing because he is feeling it too late."

This is one of the many reasons why Lewis Hamilton is unable to compete with George Russell in qualifying sessions.

Furthermore, Russell claims that the W14 is the best F1 car he has driven, apart from the 2020 Mercedes Challenger. This proves that the young Briton is much more comfortable in the 2023 F1 car.

Lewis Hamilton is not happy with Mercedes W14

Lewis Hamilton recently expressed that he does not like driving bad cars, hinting at how bad the Mercedes W14 is. However, he explained that he likes the challenge of fixing the car so that it becomes better. He said:

“I don’t like driving not great cars. I don’t like driving a car that’s not the car that we weren’t meant to have but I love that challenge of ‘OK, what can I do with it? Wins are not possible right so what is the maximum we can get? Can we be a little cheeky and if fifth is the best we can get, can we get a fourth or a third?’ Just make sure we are consistent and fit and ready so when the car does all of a sudden switch on and it is the car you dreamed of having, you’re ready.”

It is clear that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are doing everything in their power to fix their 2023 F1 challenger.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh