Lewis Hamilton called his 10th place at the Saudi Arabian GP “gutting” as his comeback was halted by pit-lane confusion on Sunday, with the Mercedes driver also insisting his team are a “long way away” from returning to the front.
Hamilton, after starting 15th, had recovered to sixth after a long stint on hard tyres before a bizarre set of circumstances saw Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso ground to a halt by the entrance to the pit-lane.
Hamilton had hoped to take advantage of the Virtual Safety Car with a pit-stop but by the time Mercedes told him to stop, the Englishman insisted it was “too late” with cars in the way and the pit entry closing.
When the VSC ended, Hamilton finally stopped but he then dropped down to 12th and could only make up two places in the closing nine laps.
Hamilton, questioning his team, told Sky F1: “Personally I feel like I maximised everything. I don’t know if we did as a team.”
“It was a difficult one,” he added. “I saw Alonso slowing down, it was double yellow flags so I didn’t push to overtake him, then Daniel was stuck in the pitlane so I didn’t know if I could go in with a car sitting there. It was just not great.”
Attempting to explain what happened, team boss Toto Wolff said: “We told him to come in but there was a double yellow with one car slowing down, one stationary, so it was just an overall confusing situation.
“He [Hamilton] drove past by and was slowing down because of the confusion, and that made us come out behind Magnussen and obviously then it’s game over.”
“I have to speak to the team,” Hamilton continued to Sky F1. “It’s gutting, but I got one point at least.”
‘We’re so far off Ferrari and Red Bull’
Hamilton has endured a well-below par weekend in Jeddah, qualifying only 16th. While he showed more pace in the race, his best-case scenario was only ever sixth and Mercedes were nowhere near the speed of Red Bull and Ferrari.
“Not much has changed since the last race, it’s only been a few days,” said Hamilton.
“What I know is that today I couldn’t keep up with the Haas at the end, the power they have… they came sling-shotting past me when I overtook Magnussen earlier on in the race. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I know I’ve got a great team, we’ll keep our heads down and try and improve.”
Wolff called the Jeddah race “sobering” while Hamilton added, after Max Verstappen won for Red Bull ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc: “The learnings are that we’re quite a bit off pace-wise and we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“Right now we’re not fighting for the top step, we’re so far off the guys at the front.
Source: Sky Sports