End of Merc dominance? Hamilton knocked out in first qualifying session in Saudi Arabia

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Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes and race engineer Peter Bonnington talk in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 25, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes and race engineer Peter Bonnington talk in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 25, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton was sensationally knocked out at the first qualifying round since the first time since Brazil 2017, 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."

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 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.

After Mick Schumacher crashed out heavily in his Haas, the action was stopped for a second time.

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."

The television cameras cut away from the scene of the high-speed crash, 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 severely damaged in the crash that his car split in two as it was towed away by a recovery vehicle.

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