Hamilton denies 'silly' Mercedes gamesmanship charge

Lewis Hamilton has strongly denied that he and Mercedes resorted to 'gamesmanship' to clinch pole position in today's... The post Hamilton denies 'silly' Mercedes gamesmanship charge appeared first on F1i.com.

Hamilton denies 'silly' Mercedes gamesmanship charge

Lewis Hamilton has strongly denied that he and Mercedes resorted to 'gamesmanship' to clinch pole position in today's qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

With Hamilton already on provisional pole, he and team mate Valtteri Bottas appeared to hold up the Red Bull drivers heading into the final flying laps at the end of Q3.

As a result, Max Verstappen wasn't quite able to find the improvement he needed to get onto the front row of the grid for Sunday's race, while Sergio Perez missed out on starting his push lap altogether.

Talking to Sky Sports F1, Red Bull principal Christian Horner described the events as "a bit of gamesmanship" but admitted that Hamilton had been perfectly "right to do".

For his part, Hamilton insisted that there had been no such games being played. "I wasn't playing any tactics," he said in the post-qualifying press conference.

"I don't need to play no tactics, man. I know what I'm doing in the car and it's fast enough, we don't need to add tactics.

"Everyone was doing a slow out-lap. It was no different, really, to any other lap," he continued. "Each time we're going out we're trying to prepare the tyres and keep them cooler because they get so hot throughout the lap.

"Everyone was going slow. Did you not watch everybody else? I don't understand. Do you think I could've gone quicker and then been just closer to Valtteri?

"Those that are making the comments really don't clearly know anything about the job that we're doing here, which is probably why they're not driving here."

The last comment was in response to a tweet from former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, who had posted that "If that was made on purpose, it's not pretty."

Hamilton was also questioned about whether he had been unusually slow exiting pit lane.

"I knew that ahead of those guys ahead of Valtteri and whoever was ahead of him would all bunch up towards the end of the lap," he explained. "So I tried to make as big a gap as possible.

"Even still with that at the end of the lap we still had to pull back off and wait for everyone to get going," he added. "So [I was] just trying to make sure that I had the best gap ahead of me.

"Ultimately I think none of us probably had the best tyre prep for that lap because everyone was going slow," he admitted, with his own final lap ending up over two seconds off his earlier time.

"Right towards the end, just probably lost too much temperature in the tyres in the fronts," he said of the warm-up for his final Q3 run.

"So yeah, the start of the lap just wasn't great and it didn't really seem to get any better later on through the lap."

Verstappen himself said that it had made no difference to the outcome of today's qualifying session.

“Of course the tyres were a bit cold but I wouldn’t have gained four tenths if the tyres would have been a bit warmer," he said.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also dismissed suggestions of team tactics playing a part in today's qualifying session.

"I think everybody tried to have the biggest possible gaps," he told Channel 4 F1. "We saw the average was somewhere between seven and eight seconds through all the qualifying sessions. But the camera was pointed on there, so maybe we didn’t see everybody else doing it.

“I’m happy [with pole] because we expected Hungary to be more tricky for us," he continued. "Especially in those conditions. Locking out the front row gives a certain advantage for tomorrow.

"I think it’s going to be an exciting start," he added. "It will be an exciting turn one and for sure from the strategy, we will see some interesting manoeuvres.

“Maybe Gasly leads after turn one and all four [Mercedes and Red Bull] cars are out," he quipped. "I’m just joking! I hope not."

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Norris 'could have done a little bit better' in qualifying

Lando Norris will start Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, but the McLaren driver was... The post Norris 'could have done a little bit better' in qualifying appeared first on F1i.com.

Norris 'could have done a little bit better' in qualifying

Lando Norris will start Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, but the McLaren driver was left ruing missing out on a second row spot by the narrowest of margins.

A mere 0.075s spanned fourth through seventh at the end of qualifying, with Norris ending up less than seven hundredths of a second away from Sergio Perez who qualified in fourth.

“We could’ve done a little bit better,” Norris lamented. “Fourth or fifth was possible today.

"It was a small chance because it was so close to fourth and fifth place, and that we could have been ahead of them," he noted. "So we need to analyse what we could've done better so we can maximise our potential next time.

"I’m not super happy [with P6] but happy enough," he continued. “I am not unhappy because I think we are ahead of a lot of people we did not think we would be, mainly the Ferraris."

Heading into the final round of qualifying, Norris had already used four sets of soft tyres after heading out for an extra run in Q1 "when we didn't need to do" which left him at a disadvantage.

"We put an outlap on the tyres, and when you're talking a quarter tenth gap to the people around, the chance of me having two perfect new sets of tyres I want to say is half a tenth."

As a result Norris will start on the third row alongside AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly who will be his first target on Sunday.

“There's also a chance with the strategy to be ahead of one or two people, at least Pierre, so we will look into it tonight and see what we can do.

"There are not many things you can do on this track because it is so difficult to overtake," he admitted. "We will just have to take our time and see.

"We just make sure we keep concentrating and don’t make any silly mistakes, and I think we can still score some good points."

Norris did at least out-qualify his team mate Daniel Ricciardo for the seventh successive race, with the Aussie failing to progress from Q2 meaning that he's set to start from 11th place tomorrow.

"It felt like pretty much all I could do," he said. "I felt the lap was decent, and when it feels alright and you still don’t get into Q3, that’s what’s obviously a bit painful.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL35M. 31.07.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest,

Norris admitted that the introduction of a number of upgrades to the MCL35M had been an added headache for both drivers this weekend.

“It has not been the best car to drive all weekend,” he said. "We tried a lot of different things and we are still learning things for the rest of the season.

"They are finding things out for now and also for the future," he explained. "If we try something a little bit different on the car, then they want to know if it is better or worse.

"We had the best package we could today, the team are doing a good job and we are working hard.”

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