Lewis Hamilton says 'spiteful' Mercedes is 'like a viper' when pushed too hard

By Sports Desk April 09, 2022

Lewis Hamilton described the temperament of his Mercedes as that of "a viper, or a rattlesnake" after qualifying fifth for the Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time Formula One champion recognised a significant shift in performance as he finished just ahead of team-mate George Russell, with both Mercedes cars starting on the third row for Sunday's race.

That is a welcome boost to the team, after Hamilton was eliminated in Q1 last time out in Saudi Arabia.

This time, both cars safely made it through to the third round of qualifying, and Hamilton said it was "nice to be back up there" as he and Mercedes looks to challenge early-season pace-setters Ferrari.

"Jeddah was really, really, really tough, to be so far back and not really be able to make progress," Hamilton said.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said the Mercedes team had worked through the night in an effort to draw the best possible lap from the car.

And he claimed there could be better still to come, but the danger lies in pushing too hard.

"I feel like with my lap today there was a little bit more in the car," Hamilton said. "I'm naturally also gutted I wasn't able to extract that little bit.

"But the problem is when you push that car a little bit more, she's quite spiteful. She's like a viper, or like a rattlesnake, you never know."

Hamilton has complained about the W13 car bouncing during the early weeks of the season, and that remains an issue.

He was almost a full second behind Ferrari pole-sitter Charles Leclerc in Q3 on Saturday at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, meaning there remains a significant gap in performance.

"We just have to try to find a level of the bouncing as hardcore as we can go, without rattling our brains out of our skulls, and that's what we try to do," Hamilton said.

"[Russell] and I have slightly different cars because we're trying all different things. I've got something in my car that makes the car a little bit heavier.

"Hopefully it will enable the team to gain more information from the race tomorrow. I hope from that we can start making some progress."

Hamilton has previously taken eight pole positions at Albert Park, matching the all-time record for any F1 circuit. Eight poles has also been previously achieved by Michael Schumacher at Suzuka, Ayrton Senna at Imola and Hamilton himself at Hungaroring.

Qualifying success has not typically translated to success on race day for Hamilton in Australia, however, as he has only recorded two wins at Albert Park, in the 2008 and 2015 seasons.

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    The Briton was 0.163 seconds slower than pace-setter Carlos Sainz in FP2, while compatriot Lando Norris was third and championship leader Max Verstappen in fourth.

    Hamilton has yet to win a race this season, but he offered plenty of promise heading into a big weekend on home soil at a packed Silverstone with his performance in practice.

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    "It's bouncing still, quite a bit," he said. "Not necessarily on the straights but through the corners it's pretty harsh – not physically harsh but in the car on the tyres and everything.

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    Hamilton may have endured a difficult campaign to date, lagging as he does 98 points behind leader Verstappen, but he boasts an impressive record on his home turf.

    The 37-year-old has won the British Grand Prix eight times and could become the driver to have won the most races at a single Grand Prix with victory this weekend.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, have recorded eight of the last nine wins at Silverstone, while also taking eight of the last nine poles.

    McLaren driver Norris looks good value to challenge for a second podium of 2022 after a surprising rise up the timesheets, having finished 15th last time out in Canada.

    "As good as it looked, it is still difficult to put things together and be consistent but I am happy," he said.

    "The car seems to be in a decent place, at least a little better than we were expecting."

    Friday was rather unimpressive for Red Bull's Verstappen, who has won six of the nine races this year, including five of the last six.

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    "To hear it from someone who ultimately believes in the war, the killing of millions of people? I can't believe it. They have nothing positive to contribute to where we want to go.

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    Sebastian Vettel was among those who spoke out in support of Hamilton in Thursday's media session, addressing the abuse that the British driver has faced throughout his career.

    "I think it’s more than just the recent, it’s what he and his family has been through his entire life," he said.

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    "It is important to talk about it because it won’t be gone overnight and we have a responsibility to try and address these issues.

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