The enduring image of the 2022 Formula One race in Azerbaijan will be Lewis Hamilton struggling to extricate himself from his car at the end of the race. Toto Wolff immediately called for the FIA to look at the car design regulations with a view to reducing the ‘bouncing’.
Yet Sky’s Paul Di Resta commented during the race that Mercedes only had themselves to blame for the extreme nature of ‘bouncing’ Hamilton suffered due to the ride height of the car being set too low.
Wolff added that it may be necessary for Mercedes to call on a reserve driver for this weekends race in Canada due to the poor state of health Lewis Hamilton was in.
One mystery surrounding Hsmilton’s Baku pit radio message stating that his seat had gone cold was cleared up by James Vowells speaking on Mercedes `YouTube channel. It was oil fact not a cold seat but “numbness that [had] set in”.
Vowells also confirmed Mercedes will not be using a reserve driver to replace Hamilton in Canada stating Lewis “will be back in the car in Montreal”.
“[Lewis] is an elite athlete that will push the bounds of endurance of himself and the car,” added Vowles. “That’s what Formula 1 drivers do, that’s what makes them exceptional.
However, there appears to be some disunity in the Mercedes leadership as surprisingly Vowells accepts the responsibility for Hamilton’s ‘undriveable’ car in Baku was the team’s alone. This conflicts somewhat with the Toto Wolff polemic that the problem is the FIA car design regulations.
“On this occasion, though, we pushed the package and our drivers too far.” admitted the Mercedes motorsports director. We are putting them into significant discomfort and we simply can’t do that again”
This weekend’s race in Montreal will again be difficult for Mercedes given the track is quite bumpy but James Vowells believes the team will in fact perform better than in Baku. There George Russell the team’s best qualifier was 1,3 seconds off the pace of pole sitter Charles LeClerc.
“We didn’t expect perhaps to drop back as much as we did in Baku, but that provided a platform to learn from,” said Vowles. “Montreal isn’t going to be substantially different to the last two races [Monaco and Baku]; I think we will still have a package that isn’t at the front on merit. Red Bull and Ferrari will still be the benchmark that we have to compare ourselves to.
“I think though that the large gap that you saw in qualifying in Baku perhaps won’t be that big in Montreal – it will be back down from where it was and as we go through all the races from then onwards, I am fairly sure we will find small steps and developments that push us back towards the front.”
Despite their 2022 W13 car woes, Mercedes are just 39 points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship mostly due to George Russell’s exceptional results this year. He is the only driver to finish each of the seasons events inside the top 5.
The Brits stunning performance does though makes the claims that Hamilton is past his best look even more certain.
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