Lewis Hamilton admitted his Mercedes car felt “pretty terrible” after his worst qualifying result for nearly three years leaves him facing what he believes will be an “almost impossible” task to make up big ground in Sunday’s race.
Qualifying outside the top six for the first time since July 2018 on the hardest Formula 1 track on which to overtake, Hamilton was absent from the fight for the leading positions all the way through Saturday’s final practice and qualifying action amid a lack of grip from his W12 car.
To compound matters, title rival Max Verstappen starts from second place with the Red Bull driver now having a big chance to eat into Hamilton’s 14-point title lead.
“It didn’t feel too bad on Thursday and we made some changes and it was pretty terrible today,” said Hamilton to Sky Sports F1.
Failure never feels good but it provides us with opportunities for growth. We have struggled this weekend, for many different reasons but we win and we lose together. Tomorrow will be tough, so if you got time, do a little rain dance for me😉let the heavens open🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/8FRDaGswwO
“We go back to the drawing board.
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“From my point, I had such lack of grip out there, which then leads you to try to kind of over-drive and start pushing to get more from it. But to no end, it just doesn’t improve.
“Difficult one. Obviously Valtteri [Bottas, third in the sister Mercedes] was able to get something out of it but we’ve definitely had some problems today.”
The narrow and barrier-lined confines of Monaco’s legendary 2.1-mile circuit notoriously offer scant opportunity for overtaking – an unescapable characteristic of F1’s most-famous event not lost on Hamilton heading into Sunday’s 78-lap race.
“It’s almost impossible to overtake here so…” replied the Mercedes driver when asked about his race prospects from the fourth row.
“Up front where we are it’s pretty much the case when everyone is on the same speed. Saturday is the day [in Monaco], so obviously that really does put for sure the win out of reach.
“I guess the minimum would be hopefully seventh and then we’ve got to somehow see how we can move forwards.”
Hamilton’s last five Monaco GPs
Hamilton and Mercedes hold ‘hard and honest discussions’
Acknowledging that Mercedes were struggling to bring their tyres up to temperature as quickly as Red Bull and Ferrari, Hamilton also said the world champions collectively could have done more as “we really lost our way from Thursday” practice.
“There will be some tough discussions that we’ll have with my engineers tonight and maybe after the weekend because there are things that should have should been done, that haven’t been done, and we’ll learn from it and come together stronger in the next race,” he said in a later post-qualifying press conference.
“From my point, it’s a little frustrating but it is what it is.
“I can’t really say too much about it, we win and lose as a team and, also, I don’t want to be critical of the team. But behind closed doors I will be, and we’ve got to work harder.”
In a later post on his Instagram story on Saturday evening, Hamilton said: “Hard and honest discussions between us as a team. I love that we can be honest with one another, after all these years that is one of the keys to our success.
“We always take responsibility for our mistakes as a team and today collectively we didn’t do as good as we could and yes that’s including me. But we live and learn. Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s see what we can achieve.”
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