Lewis Hamilton paid Haas a visit on Saturday after Mick Schumacher suffered a horrific crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion also endured a difficult day’s work as Mercedes struggled to make their mark on Jeddah’s high-speed circuit.
A dramatic day of qualifying was kick-started by Nicholas Latifi’s crash which brought out a red flag in Q1. More shocks were on the way when the day’s first qualifying session came to an end as a struggling Hamilton failed to make it into Q2 after finishing 16th.
It later emerged that the Silver Arrows had used an experimental set-up on the Brit’s car, with team boss Toto Wolff claiming it is ‘time for the team to wake up’. It was the first time Hamilton had failed to make it out of the bottom five since 2017, and the first time based purely on pace since 2009.
Haas’ Schumacher, buoyed by his team’s drastically improved performance since last season, powered through into Q2. There was serious concern, however, when he then crashed into a wall at high speed and stayed in the cockpit for a prolonged period of time.
DON’T MISS: Mick Schumacher breaks silence after horror crash in Saudi Arabia
The alleged 170mph crash left his Haas car in tatters, and he was whisked off to the medical centre and then hospital before Haas revealed that he had suffered no serious injuries and had returned to his hotel. The team also confirmed that they will only run one car in Sunday’s race and Schumacher will not be involved.
Shortly after the incident, Hamilton was snapped heading into Haas HQ to check up on the progress of the team’s promising youngster. F1 journalist Claire Cottingham added: “Confirmation after I tweeted this [photo that] Hamilton popped down to check on how Schumacher was. A touching moment.”
It was certainly a moment of good sportsmanship from a competitor who had endured one of his toughest afternoons in recent memory. Hamilton has suggested that he could opt to start from the pit lane and allow the team to make changes to his car due to the small relative impact it would have on his starting position.
The 37-year-old’s disastrous day highlights just how much work Mercedes have to do to keep pace with their main competitors, which look to be Ferrari and Red Bull. Hamilton’s team-mate, George Russell, finished a lot better off and secured sixth spot but still gave a glum rundown of events after the session concluded.
Despite suggestions that the Silver Arrows could look to exploit quick fixes in the lead-up to the weekend’s action, Saturday quickly turned into another damage limitation job. Last time out they were handed a fortuitous third and fourth place when both Red Bulls were forced to retire in Bahrain.
Towards the top of the grid it looked for all the world like it would be a Ferrari one-two as Charles Leclerc pulled out a blinding lap to beat his team-mate Carlos Sainz. Sergio Perez had other ideas, however, and produced the lap of his life to clinch a first career pole, with Max Verstappen back in fourth.
Haas’ lone driver, Kevin Magnussen, will start in 10th.