Lewis Hamilton has given a detailed account of where his qualifying lap went wrong at the Spanish Grand Prix and why he has been struggling for a balanced set-up this weekend.
Hamilton was beaten by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for the first time this year during Saturday’s qualifying session and will start Sunday’s race from second on the grid. He said rear end grip had been the biggest issue for him around the lap.
“I’ve just been sitting with my engineer and he’s got the documents and data and sometimes its understeer and sometimes its oversteer,” he said. “Generally I didn’t have any problems on the front end, I just couldn’t lean on the rear without it moving a lot. Naturally with that correction wise you put the mechanical balance forwards, but then you just have understeer.
“There’s a lot of different things you can change to get the same result and it’s like an equation: you can get to the same number but do it in several different ways. Feeling wise one of those different ways will be the right one, so I’ve got the right number but the equation isn’t perhaps right.”
Hamilton said he knew as early as Turn 7 that his lap would not be good enough for pole position.
“I chose a setting for the start of the lap that started out really well and the tyres were in good condition and I was up two tenths by Turn 5. I lost a bit of time out of Turn 5 on the exit and the tyres got hot so I got a bit of wheelspin and then oversteer in Turn 7 and it was going downhill from then on. I knew from Turn 7 that I couldn’t maintain it and at that point I thought I’d finish the lap but knew it was not going to be quick.”
He said he had been trying to fix the problems throughout the free practice sessions but a solution had proved elusive.
“It’s been the same all weekend. I’ve been chasing it, but you move the balance forward or you move the balance rearward and it’s like a see-saw, so you put a little bit more weight on one side and it goes the other way. You’re trying and trying, but the wind doesn’t really help.
“Nico, generally, has not made a lot of changes all weekend and he’s kept a balance and not really had to move. Most weekends that how it starts off for me but this weekend I was less comfortable with it. Driving style helps as well so drivers are going to be slightly different, but I’m hoping that in the race it’s not a bad thing.”