Why Lewis Hamilton didn’t produce his usual magic in the rain

SILVERSTONE, UK – For three practice sessions and a good portion of qualifying, it looked like Lewis Hamilton would take the front row of the grid for Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

New upgrades to both Mercedes cars had taken a step up in dry conditions compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari, and with a sell-out crowd braving a typical Silverstone rainstorm during qualifying, the stage seemed set for something Hamilton- magic to be ready.

But the final qualifying result sent Hamilton back into now-familiar 2022 Mercedes territory: fifth place and more than 0.8 seconds adrift.

The good news for the driver and team is that there was a very clear reason. The bad news is that it’s a missed opportunity at a track that clearly suits Mercedes.

The usual tactic in a wet qualifying session is to continue lapping at high speed in hopes that track conditions will improve and the lap time will be reduced. But lap after lap after lap means there’s no way to charge the power unit’s hybrid system for maximum power delivery in a single lap.

Mercedes decided that by resetting on Hamilton’s penultimate lap he would have the opportunity to max charge the battery and then use a more powerful drive unit setting on his final attempt. The only problem was that the rain got heavier on the penultimate lap, meaning Hamilton couldn’t put in a faster lap with the extra battery power when it mattered.

“I was really, really hopeful because we have this incredible crowd and all of a sudden I was fighting,” Hamilton said. “It felt great. I thought, ‘I can definitely go faster’. I think I was two tenths up and then they said back off [on my penultimate lap] and go again But the next round wasn’t so good.

“We wanted to switch to a more ‘racing’ performance mode for the last lap and charge the battery. When we did that, it rained a bit more on the last lap.”

Ultimately, the gamble didn’t pay off, but Mercedes was nonetheless buoyed by their overall qualifying performance at Silverstone.

“Quali looked good up to the last laps,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “I think we had a car that was good enough for the front row or maybe the first three, but in the end it just didn’t fit at all. So I’m pretty disappointed with the result because I think we could have gone faster.” .”

Not delivering is always disappointing for an F1 team, but compared to Mercedes’ season so far Saturday’s disappointment is easier to swallow.

“To be honest, it wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating if we brought a bunch of parts and felt like we went backwards,” said track engineering director Andrew Shovlin. “What worries us is that we have no direction of development.

“Our race pace was okay on Friday [during simulations in practice] and I think we made a step forward overnight but it remains to be seen where we end up tomorrow. It should be a fun race for us if we can keep up with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris at least once.”

Hamilton remains determined to put on a show for his home crowd, even if a win from fifth on the grid seems like a long shot.

“I don’t know if we can fight for a win,” he added. “The Red Bulls are so fast.

“They’re pulling away on the straights at the moment and in the high-speed corners where we’re hopping.

“Our race pace looked a bit better yesterday. Maybe they’re still ahead, but I hope we’re a little bit closer than last race.

“If it’s us and I can hold them somehow, maybe I can move on somehow. I will be aggressive tomorrow.”

https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/34184689/why-lewis-hamilton-produce-usual-magic-rain Why Lewis Hamilton didn’t produce his usual magic in the rain

Emma Bowman

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