Hamilton counters critics

Did the F1 race in Baku answer the critics who say Lewis Hamilton has already passed his peak as a driver? On paper, a sixth-place finish on the street circuit in Azerbaijan is not a particularly stunning result. This hasn’t deterred Lewis Hamilton who feels the performance proves he’s still got it.

Hamilton himself explains that the circumstances on Sunday were proof “that the hunger [is] still there.” For after the world record champion initially had bad luck with the safety car, he then fought his way back through the field impressively, as the former F1 champ efforts counters his critics.


Baku race stopped ‘racing’

Hamilton did encounter serious issues making his way forward during the Baku race, but he was not the only one. With what was perhaps one of the more ‘boring’ races of late, overtaking was zero. Perhaps one of the main reasons for Hamilton’s difficulties was the safety car which prevented the Pirelli tyres from ‘doing their thing’ and generating uncertainty in the Grand Prix.

Formula One has come to rely on the degradation of tyres to make for exciting racing. In yesterday’s race, the Safety Car robbed us of the spectacle. As the first pit stop approached, different teams were suffering different levels of degradation.

As soon as the safety car was deployed most of the field pitted for the hard tyre which they then ran to the end of the race.


Mercedes bemoans ‘boring’ race

“There was no overtaking today, even with a big pace difference,” Wolff said.

“It made it not great entertainment. I wouldn’t know today between Aston Martin and Ferrari and us who is quicker because you’re stuck where you’re stuck and that’s pretty much it.

“But at the end it all comes down to racing. It needs the tough battles and I think the highlight you could see yesterday was George and Max being able to battle it out. And today there was none of that. 

“Even if you were within 0.2 seconds it was nearly impossible to overtake unless the other driver makes a mistake.”


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“It wasn’t ideal,”

“It wasn’t ideal,” Hamilton says of the safety car period from lap eleven. Until his pit stop at the end of lap nine, Hamilton had been in fifth place between Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari and Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin.

However, because the safety car came two laps later, his opponents were able to use this for their respective pit stops, so Hamilton lost a whopping five positions and was only tenth.

“It’s definitely a punch in the gut,” he admits.

“But I couldn’t get into that frustration,” Hamilton explains. Instead, he said, he immediately went on “attack” to regain the lost positions. Right in the first corner after the restart, he caught Nico Hülkenberg in the Haas.



Ferrari too fast

Shortly after turn 2 he also overtook the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, teammate George Russell was due a lap later and on lap 19 he took sixth place from Lance Stroll after a mistake.

“I really enjoyed those battles,” Hamilton looks back.

But that was where his race to catch up ended. Hamilton also put pressure on Carlos Sainz, but was stuck behind the Ferrari until the end of the race.

“They’re just a bit quicker than us on the straights, I think,” said the record-breaking champion.


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“Even with DRS open [on us], he was fast on the straights,” he said of Sainz. “And it was not so easy to follow through the middle sector. But I gave everything,” Hamilton assures, who in the meantime demanded more power on the radio in order to somehow still be able to overtake the Spaniard.

“A driver always wants more power,” he explains his radio message. Especially as the DRS zone on the home straight, which had been shortened by 100 metres, had made overtaking in Baku even more difficult this year.

“When you turned on the DRS, it was already too late,” Hamilton reports.


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Hamilton needs updates

He could therefore not explain why the zone had been shortened at all, because in Baku they had previously had “great racing” with the longer DRS zone. In the end, however, he can live well with sixth place and emphasises:

“I’m proud of my team throughout.”

“We didn’t have the pace of the last race [in Melbourne], which is obviously not great. But there is no lack of motivation in this team. We are all super hungry and just working to get these updates,” Hamilton stressed.


Because the new parts, with which Mercedes wants to really start the chase to catch up with Red Bull, Hamilton and Russell will not get until Imola, as planned. So the coming race in Miami will also be more of a transitional race.

But for the time after that, Hamilton announces he will go on the attack. “And once I have the confidence in the car, the pace will come,” he is sure. It won’t be down to him – at least not according to the impressions from Baku.

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