The Marina Bay track witnessed the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, winding up 0.501s down on the polesitter, Carlos Sainz. However, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, George Russell, carved a path between the Ferraris clinching a spot on the front row.
Between the two Mercedes drivers, this year’s qualifying standoff has been neck and neck. By the Singapore Grand Prix, Russell had a slight edge, leading 8-7 in 2023. Hamilton, who clinched the team’s sole pole position for the year in Hungary (his first since 2021) underscored that it was his only front-row start this season. He reflected in Monza that he was “counting down the days until February” when the team would roll out the new Mercedes.
Discussing how a configuration adjustment overnight “didn’t work for me,” Hamilton extolled Russell: “Really happy for George, I think he did a mega job. He’s just been connected with the car all weekend.” However, the champ conceded, “It started good for us yesterday and it’s not so good today.” Asked about the finicky parameter of the car, Hamilton admitted bluntly: “It is the hardest car that I’ve ever driven to get right.”
Hamilton sees potential in Russell, believing the younger Briton has his sights set on potentially nabbing a win at the grand prix on Sunday. The advantage could swing Russell’s way with an extra set of medium tyres in his favour.
However, Hamilton remains less optimistic about his performance, echoing uncertainty over how the car will fare with the overnight set-up changes during a long sprint. “For me, it’s just – yeah. See what I can do,” he said nonchalantly. “If I can get further up then great. The car was good yesterday on a long run but I changed the car overnight and it’s now – I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow with the car.”
Earlier, Hamilton had expressed disapproval over four teams vetoing the addition of another DRS zone leading to the Turns 16 and 17 chicane, arguing that “teams should be for more racing, not against it.” Solicited by F1 Initiative regarding his view on whether the lack of DRS would better the race, he noted: “I think so, just because of the track layout, the surface is better. I don’t know if it’s going to be a huge difference but hopefully, it’s in a positive direction.”