Having been a lap from becoming an F1 sporting legend with 8 driver titles, Lewis Hamilton is having to come to terms with the fact his team have designed a ‘pig’ of a car for 2022. The biggest regulation changes for a couple of decades have seen Mercedes lose their uber dominant position and at best perform like the third best team behind Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
At each F1 race we hear explanations from the various Brackley apologists as to how they are coming to terms with their ‘difficult’ car and how THIS weekend will be better.
But quite evidently, the car is not improving. The best performances for the W13 in terms of qualifying lap time and race pace have been at the two circuits where the team tested extensively pre-season.
This is no coincidence. Clearly when Mercedes have oodles of data, and they can better optimise their difficult car at these circuits. But one swallow does not make a summer.
The F1 races in Bahrain and Barcelona have in reality been a false dawn for Mercedes. The latest example in Spain was where Mercedes and their drivers felt they had made a big step forward. A week later, Lewis was 1.2s off the pace of the pole sitter in Monaco.
Let’s be honest.The season is now a third of the way through its schedule and the W13 looks as though it has no chance of winning a race.
When questioned about abandoning the ‘zero side-pod’ concept both Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton have rejected this as a course for future development.
“I think we need to find out what is wrong with this car before we make another car”, commented Hamilton this week. “If we started making another car we could easily get it wrong. I think its about understanding [this car] fully, which we haven’t done yet.”
Lewis adds this understanding will “give us a path of where to go”.
Despite the regulations being similar between 2022 and 20223, the F1 cars will develop considerably. The reality is a third of the 2022 season has now passed and Mercedes is further behind the competition at the tracks where they haven’t had extensive testing. Surely the ‘no side pod’ design is a fail?
Yet the F1 Mercedes team is stubborn and refuses to give up on their car design philosophy. If this car design is doomed then Mercedes need to be quickly on with a new approach to be able to compete at the front in 2023.
Lewis Hamilton is bravely staying committed to the Mercedes cause despite being hammered by his team mate.
How long can this go on?
Surely as did Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso – a Sabbatical is on the cards for Hamilton as he gets frustrated with his team’s inability to provide him with a race winning car.