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Mercedes drivers expecting ‘a step forward’ in Miami Grand Prix after flashes of ‘mega’ pace in qualifying

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are set to share the fourth row of the grid for the Miami Grand Prix after taking P7 and P8 in qualifying – with the team’s performance picture mixed after a trying weekend so far.

Sprint Qualifying 24 hours before qualifying for the Grand Prix had seen both Mercedes exit in the second segment, with Russell and Hamilton then classified P12 and P16 in Saturday’s Sprint – Hamilton enjoying a frantic battle with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen before a penalty dropped him to his eventual finishing position.

READ MORE: Verstappen clinches pole position for Miami Grand Prix ahead of Leclerc and Sainz

With Mercedes able to alter the car ahead of qualifying – the team having brought a small upgrade package to the W15 this weekend – there were then flashes of pace on show, most notably Hamilton finishing Q2 in P3.

But ultimately, the team found themselves over eight-tenths off the pace of the frontrunners in Q3, Russell pipping Hamilton to P7, the two Mercedes ahead only of Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda in the top 10.

“Of course we all have higher standards than that and hope and expect more but we have to accept this is where we are as a team right now,” said Russell. “I think we know where the problems are in the car and we need to make some big changes to rectify that. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen overnight.

Russell on W15: 'It's becoming increasingly clear what the problems are and what we need to do to make it go faster'

“We always have a better Sunday than we do Saturday, so even with the car we’ve got, I think we’re going to take a step forward. But I think it’s becoming increasingly clear what our problems are and what we need to do to make it go faster.”

READ MORE: Leclerc hoping to put pressure on Verstappen in Miami as Sainz explains why P3 could be ‘good place to start’

Hamilton, meanwhile, admitted that he’d relished the improved pace of the W15 in Q2, before that pace dropped away again in Q3.

“I thought the first two qualifying [segments] were generally better,” he said afterwards. “Q2 was... the car felt mega in Q2 all of a sudden, and then got to Q3 and it disappeared again. It’s the first time it’s really worked in Q2 this year I would say.”

Hamilton baffled after ‘mega’ feeling Q2 disappeared in Q3 in Miami

Asked, meanwhile, if he understood the factors that had contributed to the pace dropping off in Q3, Hamilton replied ruefully: “We don’t know. We really, really don’t know and I couldn’t tell you, honestly.”

READ MORE: Verstappen relieved to grab second pole on ‘incredibly tough’ weekend in Miami

Mercedes head into Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix in P4 in the constructors’ standings, 47 points off next-best team McLaren.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Miami Grand Prix

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