Hamilton admits "Bulls are definitely faster today"

04/12/2021
NEWS STORY

Despite starting from pole, Lewis Hamilton is all too aware that until that final corner Max Verstappen had it in the bag.

Whether it becomes the moment the 2021 Formula One World Championship was decided or not remains to be seen, but it certainly was a watershed moment, another twist in a thrilling season that is far from over.

Despite the threat of the 'rocket' Mercedes engine and the general consensus that the Jeddah circuit is more suited to the Mercedes, it was the Red Bull driver who appeared to claim the coveted pole position... until that fateful final corner.

"I think the Bulls are definitely faster today," admitted Hamilton at session end. "I don't know if we lost performance or they just gained.

"That was one of the most intense qualifying sessions I think we've had for a while," he added, the demands of the session etched on his face, "so I'm grateful for it."

Though he set the pace on Friday, Saturday saw a complete turnaround as it was suddenly advantage Verstappen and Red Bull.

While there was no denying the pace of the RB16, it was clear the Mercedes pair were having difficulty turning on the tyres on their W12s.

"We were naturally just pushing so hard," said Hamilton. "The track had shifted a little bit. I don't know if it's just the wind, but it made it so difficult with tight temperatures.

"We were having to do heavy, heavy, quick out laps to try and get these tyres working in the right window, which is very, very odd," he admitted.

Nonetheless, Verstappen's unforced error was the world champion's good fortune.

"It always feels better when you're happy with the balance that you have, and happy with everything and it kind of runs a bit smoother," said the Briton. "I think this one was more heart in the mouth, I think for all of us.

"We got that lap right at the end which obviously, in the end, was good enough," he smiled. "But if Max had finished that lap, they would have been ahead.

"So regardless, I'm happy, I'm grateful, and we just have to work as a team tomorrow."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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Published: 04/12/2021
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