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2024 Miami Grand Prix, Friday - Jiri Krenek

Mercedes: No excuses we need to do a better job

2024 Miami Grand Prix, Friday - Jiri Krenek

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff’s demeanour said it all as he watched in dismay as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell failed to make it out of Q2 during Sprint Qualifying for the 2024 Miami Grand Prix Sprint Race today.

Dismay, disgust and despair came to mind as Wolff watched his pitiful cars struggle to match the pace of their customer team McLaren let alone the benchmark Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who claimed pole position for today’s Sprint Race with he called a “terrible lap” but still good enough for P1.

Excuses have run out for Mercedes. It is now a familiar sight, the once mightiest team of all struggling in the midfield with a third package to tackle the current F1 rules and no clue how to make the car better between sessions. As was the case again in Miami.

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Reporting another well-below-par day, Mercedes trackside boss Andrew Shovlin admitted: Unfortunately, and as we have seen on numerous occasions this year, we were unable to take the step that others were capable of come the session that mattered.

“The spread of the field was close, but we will not look to make excuses as to why both our cars were knocked out in SQ2. We need to do a better job of keeping the car in the right window and delivering the potential that we are showing in earlier sessions.

“We are understandably disappointed with how today unfolded. The team worked through a full programme in FP1 and both drivers were happy with the balance of the car. We opted to make changes that were relatively minor ahead of Sprint Qualifying, aiming to retain that goodness in the afternoon session.

“The aim in the Sprint is to get both cars into the points. We know that will be a challenge from P11 and P12 but we will be fully focused on doing so. We will also be looking to use the Sprint to further our understanding of the car and to put it in a better place for Qualifying and the Grand Prix later in the weekend,” added Shovlin.

Mercedes have locked out row six on the Miami Sprint Race starting grid for Saturday’s race, with Russell and Hamilton lining up P11 and P12. George half a second shy of the top time in Q2, and Lewis lacking another couple of tenths.

Hamilton: The car felt really good in FP1

2024 Miami Grand Prix, Friday - Sulay Kelly

As has become usual, Mercedes brought upgrades to the car that have clearly not worked again despite Wolff’s bullish expectations ahead of the weekend in Miami. But again what the drivers thought was good in FP1, bombed when it mattered in SQ.

Hamilton reported as much: “The car felt really good in FP1, and I was happy with the balance. Unfortunately, in Sprint Qualifying, the balance changed, and the car regressed. We were close to making it through to SQ3, but we were a decent chunk of being at the front.

“Starting from P12, the Sprint will be tough for us. I am not expecting a huge amount from there as it is not an easy circuit to either follow or overtake. We will be trying our best to get the car into the points though.”

Echoing Hamilton, teammate Russell said after the session around the Hard Rock Stadium on Friday, In FP1, the soft tyre was really good on our car. The pace was good. Just, on the medium, we couldn’t get the sweet spot. We found ourselves on the wrong side of it.

“It was tight out there, we shouldn’t have been in the position to be that close to the cut-off. We need to work overnight and make some improvements for the main Qualifying. I’ve got no doubt we will move forward in the Sprint. We need to try and get on top of our Qualifying woes. It’s always difficult to fight with the cars ahead when we have started on the back foot.

“Everyone brought updates to this race. McLaren have brought a big upgrade, Aston had something last week. We are kind of in the same boat as everyone else. Today it just wasn’t working for us,” conceded Russell.

In other words, same old story at Mercedes! Notably, Wolff reported ahead of this weekend: “We have something coming for Miami that looks like a good step, let’s see where that brings us out.” Wrong again!