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Hamilton "shocked" by qualifying turnaround

NEWS STORY
07/11/2021

Rendered almost speechless by his lack of pace in FP3, Lewis Hamilton admits to being shocked by the turnaround in qualifying.

Told that Sergio Perez was six-tenths of a second quicker in final practice, seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton slowly repeated the words.

"Seven-tenths of a second," he said, before emitting a sigh.

A couple of hours later that sigh became a sigh of utter relief as Mercedes locked-out the front row in one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Asked how his team had turned a 0.6s deficit to a 0.3s advantage, the Briton replied: "I really have no idea.

"They were like six tenths ahead at some stage, and then four tenths ahead," he continued. "But whatever happened, once we got to qualifying, all of a sudden we had better pace.

"I'm just as shocked as everyone," he admitted. "But we'll still take it."

Aside from the incident that spoiled the Red Bull pair's final run, for much of qualifying Verstappen was unhappy with his tyres, while both drivers also appeared to have issues with their rear wings.

Nonetheless, given the form for the previous sessions, few expected Mercedes to turn things around in the manner in which they did.

"From first practice onwards, we have generally been behind by half a second," said Hamilton. "We have been working away at trying to improve the car but knowing they have generally got higher downforce than us, they have bigger wing they use in places like Monaco.

"So we have struggled in certain parts of the track," he admitted, "so it's a real surprise and shock to see us on the front row. I don't really have an answer for it. But I will take it for sure."

Though missing out on pole by 0.145s, Hamilton was keen to praise his teammate, who appears to have raised his game in the latter stages of the season, indeed almost from the time it was announced he would be leaving for Alfa Romeo in 2022.

"I'm so proud of Valtteri," said the Briton, "I think he's been driving so well in the last few races.

"It's really great for the team. They've been working so hard," he aded. "We didn't think we had the pace this weekend. So to lock out the front row is pretty special, and obviously gives us a good fight with the others tomorrow.

"Naturally I would love to be in his position," he admitted, "but again he did a fantastic Q1, sorry Q3 run 1. I gave him a pull but he did the better job today."

"I think we were rather thinking what are we doing if we are starting third and fourth," grinned an equally shocked Toto Wolff. "Can that be an advantage, and it is a little advantage, but first of all I'm so happy that we have gained a little bit of momentum.

"I hope it's going to go until the end of the season like this, the swings."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Mexico City, here.

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