Lewis Hamilton knocked out in first qualifying session in Saudi Arabia

The struggling seven-time world champion failed to put in a lap good enough to haul himself into Q2 under the lights of the Jeddah street circuit

Published

Lewis Hamilton was sensationally knocked out at the first round of qualifying and will start only 16th for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The struggling seven-time world champion failed to put in a lap good enough to haul himself into Q2 under the lights of the Jeddah street circuit.

Hamilton’s race engineer, Peter Bonnington said: “Unfortunately that is us in P16.”

A disconsolate Hamilton, six tenths slower than George Russell in the other Mercedes, replied: “I am so sorry, guys.”

Lewis Hamilton speaking ahead of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton speaking ahead of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

Hamilton and his Mercedes team have struggled to get on top of this season’s new regulations.

But nobody predicted Formula One’s most decorated driver would fall at the first hurdle in the second qualifying session of the new campaign.

With two minutes of Q1 remaining, Hamilton, who won in Jeddah last year, said: “Can’t seem to improve, man… are we are at risk right now?”

Bonnington replied: “Affirm, we are at risk.”

And although Hamilton improved with his final run to temporarily move up to 15th and out of the danger zone, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll beat Hamilton’s time to cause a shock result.

Following his early exit from qualifying, Hamilton told Sky Sports: “I just struggled with the balance of the car, it’s not where we want to be.”

Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

The drivers were back on track following Friday’s missile strike on an oil refinery 12 miles east of the circuit.

Asked if that was a distraction, Hamilton said: “We’re professional, we block out whatever it needs. Unfortunately we went the wrong way with the set-up of the car.”

The action was stopped for a second time after Mick Schumacher crashed out heavily in his Haas.

The German hit the barriers hard through Turn 12 at high speed with the medical car immediately deployed.

Schumacher’s Haas team tweeted: “Big crash for Mick. He was really pushing but lost the car at Turn 12. The medical car is currently with him.”

Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

The television cameras cut away from the scene of the high-speed accident and no replays were immediately shown.

But Haas said Schumacher, 23, the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, is conscious and has been taken to the medical centre.

Schumacher’s car was so badly damaged in the accident that his car split in two as it was towed away by a recovery vehicle.