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Hamilton brands Melbourne weekend ‘a real struggle’ even before Lap 17 retirement

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Lewis Hamilton has called the whole of his 2024 Australian Grand Prix weekend “a real struggle” – a struggle that was capped off with a Lap 17 retirement at Albert Park.

Mercedes were off the pace in Saturday’s qualifying session, George Russell only just sneaking into Q3 – ahead of Hamilton, who was knocked out in Q2.

READ MORE: Verstappen explains 'really weird' cause of early retirement from Australian Grand Prix

Come race day, the Grand Prix was just 17 laps old when Hamilton – who’d attempted an alternative strategy, starting on the soft tyres from P11 on the grid compared to the mediums of the cars around him – radioed in to Mercedes to report an “engine failure”.

Seven-time world champion and eight-time Australian Grand Prix pole-sitter Hamilton duly pulled up on the inside of Turn 10 before jumping out of the stricken W15 and heading back to the paddock.

“I didn’t feel [the power unit failing], it just went in one go,” said Hamilton afterwards. “I didn’t feel it coming. Definitely frustrating because it was so early in the race, it was open to be able to progress forwards and on a different strategy to everyone. But these things happen.”

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Hamilton admits it’s been ‘a real struggle this weekend’ after his DNF in Australia

A downbeat Hamilton had on Saturday described his feeling as “flat”, the most successful qualifier in Formula 1 history starkly admitting that he was “used to it now, getting knocked out of Q2”.

And Hamilton – who’s set to depart Mercedes for Ferrari next year in place of Carlos Sainz, who won Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen retired – struck a similar tone when he faced the media after the race.

READ MORE: Sainz storms to victory amid drama in Australia as Verstappen retires and Russell crashes out

Asked what he’d learned in the race, Hamilton replied: “Nothing more than I’ve known before… We didn’t look terrible in the high-speed [corners] but we’re slow in the low-speed this weekend, whereas in the last race we were bad in the high-speed, good in the lower stuff. Yeah – a real struggle this weekend.”

Mercedes’ misery was compounded when George Russell crashed out of the points a handful of laps before the chequered flag, meaning the Silver Arrows slipped behind Aston Martin to P5 in the constructors’ standings.

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