Formula 1 Mercedes: Hamilton lapped, Russell in pain

Maximum penalty for Lewis Hamilton on lap 42 at the Emilia-Romagna GP in Imola: The Briton was lapped by leader and eventual winner Max Verstappen while in 14th place. Last year both fought for the World Championship until the last lap, but in 2022 Hamilton is miles away from the top.

“It’s a Netflix scene,” comments team boss Toto Wolff with gallows humor. “If we don’t perform, at the end of the day I have to take the slaps, that’s part of it and part of the business.” The Viennese takes responsibility and stands in front of his team, but above all in front of superstar Hamilton.

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“I have to protect him a bit, because it’s not his low but that of the car,” says Wolff of the Brit, who finished the Emilia-Romagna GP in a desolate 14th place. The Silver Arrow team boss explains: “We all know that he is a seven-time world champion. The guy is the best driver in the world, he just doesn’t have the machine under him to do it.”

Hamilton himself is tight-lipped after the race in Imola: “Of course that was a weekend to forget. I lost a few places during the pit stop and then hung behind Gasly. Because he also had DRS, it was impossible to get past,” says Hamilton and shakes head: “Everything went wrong that could have gone wrong. I don’t even know what else to say.”

Lewis Hamilton ends up clearly outside the points in Imola.

But with all legitimate lawsuits, Hamilton has one big problem: George Russell. His young compatriot finished fourth in the Imola, ten places ahead of the F1 superstar. In the World Championship, too, Russell is fourth (49 points), 21 points ahead of Hamilton (seventh). The new Mercedes signing seems to be doing much better with the difficult W13 than record world champion Hamilton.

Russell, of all people, found comforting words for his stable mate after the race on Sunday: “I’m sure that Lewis will come back strong soon. There’s no doubt about that, he’ll push me,” says the Mercedes youngster and adds: ” The way he drives the team forward is very inspiring.”

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Russell can’t explain why he’s getting along so much better with the sensitive Mercedes either: “Maybe the problems at Williams, where I also drove very difficult cars, helped me to a certain extent.” Otherwise, the 22-year-old plays down his strong performance in Imola: “I just had a good start, but we both have our problems with the car.”
Above all, Mercedes still cannot get the bouncing under control. “It takes your breath away. I really hope we find a solution, because it’s never felt so extreme,” reports Russell of his impressions from the cockpit: “It’s so strong that I’ve had problems with my for the first time this weekend back and even chest pains.”
Team boss Wolff also knows about Mercedes’ biggest construction site: “If we get the bouncing under control, we would be able to release a lot more performance in the car. As grim as it looks today, but if we manage to get the car reasonably straight on the track then we’ll also be up front,” the Austrian encourages his squad for the coming weeks.

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