When the wheels come off a finely tuned machine, the fall is spectacular. The Mercedes AMG F1 winning outfit has collected 8 consecutive constructor titles since 2014, but at present they look a shadow of their dominant selves.
In yesterday’s qualifying in Imola, Lewis Hamilton scraped through Q1 by just 4/1000th of a second and was lying P13 behind his team mate in Q2 after an unimpressive first run.
Then came a red flag and following that – the rain. Hamilton climbed out of his cockpit with about 25% of Q2 left.
Before Hamilton even removed his helmet TV pictures showed him speaking with Wolff who was clearly frustrated with his driver.
A sullen Lewis Hamilton was asked about the tete-a-tete with his boss and replied sullenly, “It’s all internal stuff. I’ll not share that…… It is what it is”.
Prior to practice 2 this morning, Lewis’ championship winning ex-teammate was asked for his opinion on this confrontation knowing both the players well from his time in the Mercedes team.
“Toto was annoyed with something Lewis had done”, going on to suggest it could be Lewis “complaining on pit radio that they didn’t follow his thoughts on strategy.”
This has been a hallmark of Hamilton’s Mercedes career. He consistently challenges the teams strategy calls and tyre choices, clearly delighted if they work out but not so when the gamble goes wrong.
The biggest mistake Mercedes made was in Abu Dhabi 2021.
They had the chance to put Lewis on fresh tyres behind the safety car with 5 laps to go and even if Verstappen had then stayed out Hamilton would have been in the position Max found himself in.
1 lap to go, Verstappen leading but Hamilton would have been on fresh tyres easily capable of making the pass, winning the race and the title.
Rosberg observed further that with the time left in Q2, “there was a 1% chance they could have done something”. But Lewis had left the car.
Following Mercedes AMG F1 “worst qualifying for 10 years”, Rosberg believes “tension is going to build internally” within the team and Lewis behaviour will make matters worse.
“Blaming each other… it’s your fault…. It can happen very quickly and you spiral downwards” observed Lewis’ former team mate.