Yet again, Lewis Hamilton will be forced to play catch-up in a Grand Prix this year as he’ll roll off from 10th for Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan (Sunday, 8 a.m. ET, NBCSN).
Hamilton, who has won the two most recent Grands Prix in Monaco and Canada and has a propensity for winning at new circuits, lost his form in qualifying today after leading all three practice sessions around the treacherous 3.7-mile street circuit.
An error where Hamilton hit his right front wheel on a wall resigned him to 10th without a representative time, stopped on course with a damaged car, and leaves him playing catch-up for the fourth time this year.
While others were mechanical gremlins, Hamilton put his mistake today solely down to him.
“I don’t think Baku bit me. I tried to take too much. It was all me,” Hamilton told NBCSN’s Will Buxton afterwards. “It was nothing to do with the track or the team. I wasn’t driving well today.”
Hamilton said setup changes to improve upon an already dominant Friday in Baku backfired.
“It is definitely a track you have to take chances. But this was just not getting in a groove. One corner was good, one corner was bad,” he explained.
“It was just the most uncomfortable I’ve been a long time. I cant express why. Yesterday was great. Some changes overnight and not as great today. We will try to recover tomorrow.”
Hamilton will look to recapture the form but otherwise he risks losing points to Nico Rosberg for the first time in four races, since Russia when Rosberg last won.
“I have no idea, but yesterday was a really nice day. Try to get away from the hustle and bustle here, get some good night sleep and try to pick it up.”
Hamilton has scored points in his occasions following qualifying issues, but he’s at a net loss to points to Rosberg in those three races.
At China, he went from 22nd to seventh and at Russia, 10th to second. Monaco he had early qualifying issues within Q3 but rebounded to a famous victory after Red Bull’s tire mistake on a pit stop for Daniel Ricciardo.
In those three races, Rosberg has won twice and come seventh, so he’s scored 56 points in those three races to Hamilton’s 49.
Hamilton enters Sunday’s race nine points back of Rosberg.