Qualifying pace ’sh*t’ in 2022 and 2023 - Hamilton
"I know that I can qualify well"
Lewis Hamilton admits he needs to up his game in qualifying.
On paper, the seven time world champion is actually the best qualifier in Formula 1 history - with more poles even than the great Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
But Hamilton, 38, has struggled alongside current teammate George Russell with the first two ’ground effect’ Mercedes cars in 2022 and 2023.
Team boss Toto Wolff, who is absent at Suzuka, admitted last week that he is looking forward to binning the 2023 Mercedes.
"Well, we won’t ever bin the car of course," Hamilton said on Thursday. "These cars are still masterpieces, even if ours is not the fastest in the world."
However, he admits to looking forward to getting his hands on a new car.
"My qualifying has been sh*t the last two years," he admitted to the Brazilian publication UOL. "That has to change. I’m blunt. It’s been terrible.
"Way below par. And it has to change."
Last time out in Singapore, Russell qualified second - with Hamilton fifth and consistently a few tenths behind.
"Saturday night I was very quiet there," Hamilton revealed. "I went to sleep hoping to wake up with a better mentality, but I woke up on Sunday still very thoughtful.
"I didn’t know what the race would be like because I hadn’t felt like that in years. Normally, I put it all behind me. But this was a feeling that stayed with me."
The British driver admits he has worked hard to arrive in Japan with a more "positive mindset".
"I looked at the data from the last one and made notes to understand step by step how I got into this situation and what I have to do to move forward," said Hamilton.
"I know that I can qualify well, but I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. For me, it’s been pretty average."
He also admits that Russell is now very comfortable in the 2023 Mercedes.
"George has found a way to have the car in his own hands now, and last year he was also more comfortable than me," said Hamilton.
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