By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Monaco
Lewis Hamilton said only a wet race could spare him from more misery at Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
As home favourite Charles Leclerc romped to his third pole in as many races, Hamilton slumped to eighth, two places behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell.
Hamilton’s brilliant comeback drive to fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix a week ago provided him with some hope that he can haul himself back into the title mix.
💬 "The red flags cost me my final lap, but I don't think it was going to be much different to how it turned out anyway.
"Now we need to see what the weather does tomorrow and try to make some progress up the field."
Eyes on the skies tomorrow. 🌧️👀 pic.twitter.com/n5CRxLfS6r
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 28, 2022
But Hamilton, already 64 points behind championship leader Max Verstappen heading into the seventh round of 22, is poised to lose further ground on Monte Carlo’s impossible-to-overtake streets.
While the principality has bathed in sizzling sun so far this weekend, there is a six in 10 chance that rain could impact Sunday’s race.
“I am not doing any dancing, but I do want it to rain, so I am not just driving around in the dry in eighth,” said Hamilton.
“You cannot overtake, so I am hoping that the weather plays up, and maybe we can do a different strategy.
“We were not very good in the low-speed corners at the last race, so I anticipated it would be difficult, but it is worse than we anticipated because it is super-bouncy.
“It would be nice to have some luck for once. I have been having bad luck all year, so it is bound to stop at some stage.”
Hamilton’s final comment was in reference to a dramatic conclusion to qualifying which saw the running red-flagged with just half-a-minute left on the clock.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 28, 2022
Sergio Perez crashed into the wall on the entrance to the tunnel with Carlos Sainz collecting the Mexican’s stricken Red Bull machine.
Neither driver was injured in the slow-speed smash, but with a Red Bull and Ferrari blocking the track, the session was suspended and would not be restarted.
Hamilton was on a speedier lap at the time, but it is unlikely he would have had enough in the tank to gazump Russell, who qualified four tenths faster than his more illustrious team-mate.
Russell, who is now 4-3 up on Hamilton in qualifying – and 28 points ahead of him in the standings – said: “Sixth is not a result to be celebrating but when you look at it objectively, there was no reason for us to be any higher.
“We have really struggled with the compliance of the car. Following Barcelona, our strengths were straight-line speed and the high-speed corners and there are none of those high-speed corners here, so I was really pleased with the lap.
“Obviously there was a red flag, but I was still four-tenths up on Lewis so that was promising.”