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'Sold for less as a team'

‘Sold for less as a team’

( – “It wasn’t a great qualifying session,” Lewis Hamilton said, to say the least. Because for Mercedes, there was a historic defeat ahead of the 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola (follow all the units here in the F1 live tape!): for the first time since 2012, the Silver Arrows did not bring a car into the top ten in qualifying, for sixth on Launching since returning as a factory team for the 2010 season.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W13 at Imola: The difference is very big


And was George Russell’s 11th and Lewis Hamilton’s 13th perhaps the cause of the serious conversation Hamilton seemed to have had with team boss Toto Wolff in the Mercedes pits? Sky expert Ralf Schumacher thinks he’s found the quirky home a blessing, and says, “There was clearly no consensus. I’m not a lip reader, but it doesn’t look very positive.”

Schumacher added that he got the impression that Wolff was not happy with the drivers. “It’s a bit of an ordeal for a team like this. What are you doing, which direction are you going? I think you promised more this weekend.”

Hamilton just with luck in Q2

But the truth is: Mercedes is clearly very slow at Imola. Hamilton almost finished in the first quarter, which secured the lead into the second part by just 0.004 seconds. In the second quarter, Russell was about two seconds behind, and Hamilton was 2.3 seconds behind.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” says Hamilton, agreeing with Schumacher’s further comments: “You come here with optimism and you know everyone is working really hard, and then nothing works for them.”

Hamilton says Mercedes “sold itself as a factory team” at Imola on Friday. Rationale: “There are things we could have done that we didn’t do.” However, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion does not go into details.

Mercedes: Every weekend a “rescue mission”

Not even what he discussed with Wolff in the Mercedes box. “These were internal things I’d rather not share,” Hamilton explains. “But yeah, we keep working. That’s what it is. Every weekend is a rescue mission.”

Hamilton says it can now be just a matter of somehow staying put into the weekend, and getting up for a sprint on Saturday. “It will be a tough race but hopefully the weather will be better on Saturday. Who knows? Maybe we can make progress.”

Hamilton loses to Russell again

But one of Hamilton’s top contenders on his way to the top 10 is his teammate, who was better at qualifying for the second time at his fourth attempt. In a direct comparison of silver stocks He is 2-2 in the playoffs with a 2-1 advantage for Russell in the races so far.

That should annoy Hamilton a lot, Schumacher says on Sky: “I think Lewis is upset because he’s standing behind his teammate again, even if he’s right there in the back. Because that’s how it is: every racing driver wants to be up there in front. “.

How does team boss Wolff react to poor performance

But Mercedes is at the back, and that is “of course painful”, team boss Wolff admitted to Sky after the first free practice session. At the start at Imola, Russell and Hamilton finished 10th and 18th for Mercedes, again with a clear deficit.

“When I see our car going behind the leaders by about five seconds, it’s not nice. You want to choke yourself,” says Wolf. “But I like a challenge. I like when things are bad, when you are wrong. This is where you learn the most. Because in the long run we will be good under these new rules.”

Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes W13 behind Sergio Perez in Red Bull and Fernando Alonso in the Alps

Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes W13 behind Sergio Perez in Red Bull and Fernando Alonso in the Alps Zoom

He’s just an optimist, Wolff asserts. Wolff said he therefore could not rule out that Mercedes could still play a role in the 2022 world title battle – provided the team succeeds in “developing the potential of the car”. “Right now, looking at the gaps today, it seems like a totally unrealistic proposition. But we’re still trying to make sense of it.”

Rosberg can hardly look

But the current situation still raises questions. “Sky” expert Nico Rosberg, for example, is almost amazed at Mercedes’ presentation at Imola. Rosberg says the weather is not the reason for his former team’s performance. “She was two seconds slower per lap!” “It’s unbelievable, nothing is going right,” he adds.

Even as a spectator, he is not comfortable with the behavior of the Mercedes W13: “When they drive the car on the straight, you get a headache just watching the car jump.”

“And they don’t have a solution for this at the moment, because the problem is: there are no major problems in the wind tunnel [Bodenwellen]. Everything is stable and stable there which is why it is so difficult to find and find solutions in a wind tunnel,” says Rosberg. That is why it is difficult to predict “when they will have a solution.”

What makes Mercedes porpoises so bad

Team boss Wolff emphasizes that the so-called porpoise, the car jump, has a different dimension at Mercedes than anywhere else on the field. Ferrari, for example, is also known for rebounding, but not so blatantly. “With us the frequency is higher, the main difference is when braking. When you brake, the car stabilizes. Not with us,” Wolff says on Sky.

But Mercedes not only accepts this handicap, but is actively looking for solutions, but so far without any resounding success, says Wolff: “We’ve reduced the weight, but we don’t know if that might even increase the porpoise.”

He explains that his team is currently learning “really on the go.” “We’ve never done F1 like this before. But we have to blame ourselves for that.”

Russell: Things can only get better for Mercedes

For Russell and Hamilton, for example, this is expressed in the fact that they are not able to warm the tires of the Pirelli on the track. Russell sees this as a distinct disadvantage compared to the direct opponents: “We’ve already noticed that in Australia compared to Alpine and McLaren. They worked out on lap one, but we had to fix it on lap three or five, slower and slower in between rides.”

At Imola, they stumbled upon this problem again, but Russell takes it calmly: “If there’s ever a weekend where you’re not where you want to be, that’s a weekend with Sprint. It’s not perfect, but we have a chance to achieve in places again on Saturday.”

Russell continued, but that doesn’t mean it will work. He knows: “It doesn’t happen often in the sprint. I also don’t think we have enough laps to have enough tire wear that we can take advantage of because we are in a better position than our current opponents. So let’s see what we can arrange. Sunday is still to come. It can only get better.”