Lewis Hamilton dominated both Saturday and Sunday in Qatar. Mercedes CEO Andrew Shovlin himself has no explanation for the sudden difference compared to title competitor Max Verstappen.
Hamilton seized pole position for the second time in two weeks on Saturday. Verstappen did qualify in second, but did so almost half a second behind. A difference that we haven’t seen for a long time between the two title rivals. The Dutchman had to start the Grand Prix in seventh position due to a grid penalty, but once back in second place he could no longer pose a threat to the seven-time world champion.
Mercedes does not know where the sudden difference in performance comes from. Shovlin said he was surprised by the large margins: “We thought we would be good here, but of the three remaining circuits we were most concerned about this one,” quotes The Race. “As of Saturday morning, however, it looked like Lewis had everything under control.”
The Zilverpijlen’s trackside engineer continues: “It’s hard to predict that the margins would be one or two tenths, which would still be pleasant margins. We never thought it would be that much, but everything fell into place during the latter [kwalificatie] run. Lewis is really in the zone right now. We can simulate whatever we want, but nothing explains why he was so much faster than Max.”