Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car was a "handful" in wet weather at Spa

Lewis Hamilton says his W12 was “a bit of a handful” in the wet Formula 1 qualifying at Spa, after Mercedes applied a set-up “compromise” covering wet and dry circumstances. 

Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car was a "handful" in wet weather at Spa

Unpredictable wet weather for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix has complicated matters for the drivers regarding the typical downforce-level balance needed to set the fastest times through Spa’s long, straight-heavy first and final third, and the more technical middle sector. 

Motorsport.com sources suggested after practice on Friday that with the difficulty of predicting when it would rain for the rest of the weekend – it was at that stage suggested the race could be dry, at least compared to the soaking conditions for qualifying – teams would opt to set-up their cars for optimum performance in the dry and have their drivers cope with that approach in wet conditions. 

In the battle at the front of the grid, this would appear to favour Red Bull, which claimed pole with Max Verstappen, as its high-rake concept means the team struggles to reduce drag for dry conditions as the rear of the RB16B sits higher in the air, which in turn means it has more ‘natural’ downforce when using a dry set-up in the wet. 

This is likely what Hamilton, who will start the Belgian race in third behind Verstappen and Williams driver George Russell, was referring to in the post-qualifying press conference when he said “I think there are people with different downforce levels” compared to Mercedes this weekend. 

“Just a tricky session for everyone one with the rain – it was more intense in different parts of the circuit,” Hamilton said of qualifying on Saturday. 

“A struggle I would say, for us, with our car today. We’ve seen with Valtteri as well.  

“Just the car was a bit of a handful today. But nonetheless I’m really happy to be on the second row and the points are tomorrow.”  

Read Also:

When asked to elaborate on his comments about his car handling in the wet, Hamilton replied: “Well, you know, there’s not really too much to say, it was just not a lot of grip out there for everyone and I think there are people with different downforce levels.  

“We tried to find the best compromise, the best balance for both potential circumstances today and tomorrow – in terms of dry and wet. And so, we hope we’re ok.  

“We’ll see what the weather is like tomorrow, and we’ll see how it works.”  

After ending up 0.279s adrift of Verstappen having led the way in the disrupted Q3 session following Lando Norris’s huge crash at Eau Rouge, Hamilton said he was confident Mercedes has better race potential. 

“I think our race pace should be a little bit stronger than our pace [on Saturday],” explained the world champion.  

“But I still think it’s going to be a handful nonetheless – particularly if its these [wet] conditions [again]. 

shares
comments

Related video

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more
Previous article

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more

Next article

Monza renames Parabolica in honour of Michele Alboreto

Monza renames Parabolica in honour of Michele Alboreto
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021