Hamilton points out the ‘biggest issue’ he faced on the way to P5 in Saudi Arabia
Lewis Hamilton held off the Ferraris and finished in the top five at Jeddah. But the seven-time champion wasn’t over the moon with his result in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as he saw room for improvement.
The 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix winner qualified seventh for the race and offered few words on Saturday evening as he cut a frustrated figure. But Hamilton turned things around on Sunday: he began the race on hard compounds, contrary to his rivals’ choice of mediums, and attempted to go long on those compounds and end the race on softer tyres to enjoy a late advantage.
READ MORE: Russell calls Jeddah drive ‘one of my strongest weekends in F1’ despite losing P3 to Alonso
The emergence of the Safety Car nixed that strategy, but Hamilton still managed to finish ahead of both Ferraris – who had not enjoyed a pit stop during the Safety Car.
"We got some great points as a team today... I was able to move forward from seventh to fifth, which is the main thing,” began Hamilton. "If I had qualified better then maybe I could have got a better result, but we still got some points. My set-up this weekend has been the biggest issue I've faced. I got it wrong for qualifying and it wasn't good in the race either, so I struggled today.
“We were trying to go long on the hard tyre, but the Safety Car came out, so I had to pit. We just about managed to make the medium work, but it was a long second stint,” he added.
READ MORE: ‘I am happy in the end with the result’ – Alonso relieved after 100th career podium reinstated in Jeddah
Hamilton took positives away from the weekend in Saudi Arabia that left Mercedes – whose other driver George Russell was briefly promoted to third from fourth at the chequered flag before Fernando Alonso’s podium was reinstated – level on points with Aston Martin going into Australia.
“We didn't have the same tyre degradation as we did in Bahrain, though. We were a lot closer to some of those ahead and it's great to be in the top five, ahead of the Ferraris. There is lots to work on, but there are positives to take away from this weekend,” concluded Hamilton.
Team Principal Toto Wolff praised both of his drivers, but admitted that there was some pace left on the table at Jeddah. He alluded to Mercedes’ worries over tyre degradation that saw them lose out on the podium in the season opener at Bahrain, which is considered a tougher track on tyres than Jeddah.
READ MORE: Perez fends off Verstappen to win action-packed Saudi Arabian GP as Alonso takes 100th podium
“I think both of our drivers under our guidance probably over-managed their tyres a bit, and we had a little more pace. Bahrain is still in our heads, and we could have maybe pushed more,” said Wolff.
“It was a strong drive from George and a great recovery from Lewis to get solid points. Red Bull are still far away in terms of performance and that won't be easy to catch. Nevertheless, today we've seen that our development is heading in the way we want to head,” concluded the Mercedes boss.