“Never Over Till It’s Over”: Lewis Hamilton Plots Ultimate Comeback Plan as Toto Wolff Drops 5-Worded Hint

Published 10/07/2023, 3:28 PM EDT

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The Sprint race at the 2023 Qatar GP was only ever going to be about Max Verstappen. The reigning world champion is now a three-time world champion. It was inevitable, considering how relentless he’s been this season. But as he sealed the deal in the Sprint, a lot of other remarkable things flew under the radar. While Oscar Piastri’s first win—not to mention, as a rookie—in Formula 1 was almost as appreciated as Verstappen’s championship, a certain Mercedes driver silently delivered. Who was it? Lewis Hamilton.

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“I don’t feel like at this track we need to have track limits,” said Hamilton after the chaotic qualifying on Friday. Like in Austria, drivers knew track limits were going to be a problem in Qatar. While he sympathized with drivers who lost out on Friday, he was the one who lost out on Saturday. At least during the Sprint Shootout.

Lewis Hamilton shone on Saturday and plans to do it again on Sunday

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In the new Sprint format, Friday has one practice session followed by qualifying for the race. Saturday is dedicated entirely to the Sprint. And the day didn’t start too well for Hamilton. On Friday, he sympathized with drivers who lost out because of track limits. On Saturday, he was the one who needed the sympathy after he got knocked out in SQ2. How? Because he exceeded track limits on two of his three flying laps, qualifying in P12 for the Sprint.

The front runners were on split tire strategies. For the 19-lap race, some of them opted for the soft tires and some the medium. Hamilton, unlike his teammate George Russell, was on the mediums. With the slippery, newly resurfaced track, getting up to speed on the mediums was taking time compared to the softs. The two Safety Cars at the start didn’t help make up places either, with Hamilton still stuck in P12. But around the time the third Safety Car came out, the soft-runners started dropping back, and Hamilton took advantage.

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In the last three laps of the race, the seven-time champion made up three places, climbing from P8 to P5. He crossed the line behind Russell after an incredible recovery. He radioed in and said, “It’s never over until it’s over.” To this, Toto Wolff responded, “So Lewis, tomorrow, with a good position, we know what can happen.

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The Brit is starting the race in P3 tomorrow. With the race pace the W14 showed today, Hamilton will be waiting to pounce at the first opportunity. Verstappen and Russell better beware. Verstappen and Russell better beware. Well, at least Verstappen.

Hamilton will try and act as a “backup” for Russell on Sunday

Before the final flying laps in Q3 on Friday, Hamilton was provisionally P2. Due to a sudden snap on his final lap that sent him outside track limits, he had to abort his attempt, ending up in P5. After the McLaren duo got demoted, he climbed to P3. Even so, he wasn’t too happy with his performance. In a post-qualifying interview with F1, when asked if he was satisfied with the performance, Hamilton said,  “Not massively. But it’s great for the team to be on the first two rows, second and third. Difficult at the beginning of the session, but tricky conditions out there with the wind, but ultimately, it was a pretty average session for me.” 

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Considering there was just one practice session, teams didn’t really get a clear picture of their race pace. Discussing the W14’s race pace, he said, “I’m just going to give it everything and try and bag those points. It’s great that we are ahead of the Ferraris, which is really, really key.” Mercedes is fighting Ferrari to hold on to P2 in the championship. Going into Sunday, he knows his team has the advantage. With Russell in P2, Hamilton added, “I’ll try and back George [on Sunday].” 

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Now that he’s gotten a taste of the W14’s race pace and all that it was able to achieve on Saturday, do you think Lewis Hamilton will just sit back and let George Russell be the leading Mercedes?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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