French GP: Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull, Ferrari in ‘own league’ after Mercedes more disappointed
Lewis Hamilton continued his strong form to take fourth place for the French GP; Mercedes was unable to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull for the top three; Watch Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm, broadcast from 12:30pm
Last updated: 7/23/22 6:33 pm
Lewis Hamilton has admitted Ferrari and Red Bull are still in “their own league” after Mercedes once again failed to keep up with their rivals in French GP qualifying.
The seven-time world champion continued his recent strong form to qualify for the fourth round as he comfortably edged teammate George Russell, but was unable to challenge the dens athlete Charles Leclerc and Red Bulls by Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Hamilton would have almost certainly found himself a further foothold had it not been for the fact that Carlos Sainz’s second Ferrari chose not to set a lap time in Q3 because he is facing a demotion. function down the back of the grid to use the new engine parts.
Mercedes’ performance in the south of France was particularly disappointing, as many had expected the Paul Ricard Track to match the Silver Arrows and give them a challenging chance to win the top race. in their extremely challenging 2022 campaign.
Hamilton said: “I’m really pleased with my qualifying if I’m being honest. “My last lap was great, I finished it and was like ‘it was a great lap’ but you know, still nine tenths behind the guys in front.
“I’m not really sure why that gap is bigger between these two races. But yes, they [Ferrari and Red Bull] category in their own league. “
Mercedes has shown signs of improvement recently with Hamilton finishing third in each of the last three races, and further upgrades for this weekend have raised expectations around the parking lot.
“When we said we had updates, we brought it in as the smallest thing. It could be a tenth, it could be a tenth if it worked perfectly,” said Hamilton, sixth place in the world championship added – 99 points ahead of leader Max Verstappen.
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July 24, 2022, 12:30pm
“It’s hard to really see it honestly. But to be honest, I came here thinking, ‘the race before us was three-quarters of a tenth off, so this weekend maybe we are. would take a 2/3’ break, and we had a one-second break all weekend and sometimes Monday and a half off.
“So to get nine out of ten isn’t too bad, but we [Ferrari and Red Bull] in their own place and everyone behind me is struggling too. We just keep fighting. “
Wolff: Merc isn’t good enough despite the big Hamilton screen
Mercedes has struggled to adjust to F1’s new design regulations for the 2022 season, with the eight-time-reigning constructors’ champions trailing leaders Red Bull by 122 points as the season enters The second half.
Principal Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes’ most recent failure to close the gap with their rivals led to a “liberal” approach over the weekend, which saw Hamilton test a wing after the actual lower force in the end before giving it up for qualifying.
“I think we know that once we have the new tires and we’re driving the car in a bit of a rage, we’ll be there as a third force, just like we were in the whole season, but it’s only Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“You can see that when you’re getting a bit on the back foot, you’re expecting to a certain extent for the race weekend and when it doesn’t come together, a kind of fear kicks in.
“For us, it was mostly testing with rear wing levels and tire temperatures, but in the end the overall package wasn’t fast enough and we could see that.”
Despite the disappointment of the team’s overall performance, Wolff paid special tribute to Hamilton, who was almost four-tenths faster than his teammate in Q3.
“(He did) a tremendous job,” Wolff said. “If Sainz was there it would be P5, but still a great job. He could have extracted more than what the car has at the moment.”
Russell focused on challenging Perez
Russell, who has struggled to keep up with Hamilton in recent races after surprisingly outperforming his teammate in the early stages of the season, finished sixth after making a mistake in the lap. his last race.
He will therefore start behind British rival Lando Norris’ McLaren but remains confident Mercedes can continue Sunday’s pattern of showing off speed, which they have done for the most part throughout the season. prize.
Russell appears confident he will overtake Norris, and is more focused on helping Hamilton track Perez’s Red Bull in third.
“I think as a team we were probably a little bit further than what we expected and will expect, especially after yesterday,” Russell said.
“Personally I built it in Q3, I’m P4 and I’m comfortable and I just made a mistake on my last lap, so yeah, not the end of the world. At the end of the day, I think about approx. blank is more of a concern than the order of completion.
“We just need to understand that we are the only team on the grid to close the gap forward on Sunday versus Saturday. All the others widen and we reduce it, so hopefully. me and Lewis can do it for Checo I think Charles and Max are probably too fast for us at the moment.
“I think McLaren has always shown a very strong qualifying pace, but based on yesterday we should be able to get past them quite comfortably.”
French GP: Sky Sports F1 Sunday live fixtures
8:30 a.m.: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Sunday Grand Prix: Build French GP
2pm: French Grand Prix
4pm: Checkers: French GP Response
5 p.m.: Ted’s Notebook
5:30pm: Highlights of the French GP