Lewis Hamilton may be struggling to get to grips with his new w14 Mercedes F1 car but there are signs of a more serious battle for the British driver which become evident with each passing race.
Lewis was out performed by his junior team mate last season and for the first time in his career failed to win a single grand prix. Now aged 38 Hamilton has been out qualified by George Russell at the first three races of the 2023 season.
From dominance to diligence
The reasons for Hamilton’s struggles are indeed many and none is greater than the loss of the dominant machinery Mercedes has delivered to Lewis year by year.
Its even more difficult for a driver to come off almost a decade of dominance later in their career because every small detail is now something that matters and has to be attended to.
George Russell became used to having to scrape up every hundredth of a second from here there and everywhere he could during his three long years apprenticeship with back of the grid outfit, Williams.
It could be that this is making the difference between Lewis and George in qualifying.
Hill believes Hamilton’s efforts are ‘efficient’ if not full on
Damon Hill believes Hamilton is working in a minimalistic and efficient manner:
“Lewis is very good at sussing this out – he’ll be thinking: ‘I’ll let you do the hard work, George, because it’s exhausting’,” there ex-Williams F1 champion told F1 Nation.
“Lewis’ strategy is to remove distractions and leave time for downtime.”
Lauda/Prost dynamic similar to Hamilton/Russell
Hill likens the dynamic between the Mercedes’ pair to Niki Lauda and Alain Prost.
“Niki Lauda had Alain Prost arrive.
“When the older, experienced driver is faced by the speed of a young arrival, they can get depressed about it or devote their energy to making sure the outcome in the race is the thing that matters.”
“They may give up a bit in qualifying. In their late-30s they can no longer do those transcendental laps. They focus on the laps.”
Hill: “Instinctive, unconscious speed started to leave him”
For now it appears Hamilton is irked by being out qualified by his team mate given his previous ability to rise above team mates, no matter how quick.
Yet Hill believes Hamilton needs to accept this new reality and pick his fights more carefully.
“George is super quick and is revelling in the early part of his career.
“I don’t know if Lewis has acknowledged that he can’t match that. I’m sure he will do, eventually.
“It’s possible that the instinctive, unconscious speed has started to leave him.”
Lewis’ must stop the qualifying rot
Russell outperformed Hamilton during qualifying in both Baku and at the Emilia-Romagne Grand Prix last year.
Hamilton must fight back at the next three events, including in Miami, if he’s to prove at 38 yrs he’s had no loss of pace as Hill claims.
Watching all of this happen on TV sucked..
Now looking back at it..the experience and lessons he got from this makes him the best driver currently..
He is working towards the best to ever raced in F1! pic.twitter.com/oOyyGTtNsk
— Donny Verstappen (@DonnyVerstappen) April 11, 2023