Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2022

Hamilton deserves better car than “un-driveable” Mercedes – Wolff

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton deserves a better car than Mercedes have given him said team principal Toto Wolff.

After Hamilton finished 13th in today’s race Wolff spoke to him on the radio and apologised for his uncompetitive car.

“Sorry for what you have needed to drive today I know this is un-driveable and not what we deserve to score as a result,” Wolff told Hamilton. “So we move on from there but this was a terrible race.”

Mercedes have suffered problems with porpoising since the season began, which were particularly acute at Imola.

“The car was un-driveable in the way it was un-driveable before,” he said. “I mean, you see the straight, the bouncing on the main straight, I wonder how the two of them can even keep the car on the track at times.

“Lewis deserves better from us. But we are a team, so we all need to do the utmost in order to provide him with a machine that is able to fight for front positions.”

George Russell finished nine places ahead of Hamilton in the other Mercedes, having gained places at the start and made his way past Kevin Magnussen. Meanwhile Hamilton was stuck in a queue of cars, each of which was using DRS, which Wolff said thwarted his efforts to make up places.

Race start, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in pictures
“You see that when there is a DRS train like we had yesterday in the sprint race none of them could overtake,” said Wolff. “So it’s really if you’re being boxed in a train of cars, it’s just almost impossible to overtake.

“I think Lewis had much more pace than Gasly or Albon or all the other guys in front of him. But there’s one DRS straight and if you haven’t got the straight-line speed, you can’t pass.”

While Hamilton apologised for failing to match his team mate’s points-scoring achievement, Wolff believes both are getting the most from their car.

“I think both drivers are doing the utmost and out-performing the car at the moment. We’ve seen that reaping the results for George, who did an outstanding race, a perfect start and then handled a car that was that wasn’t tuned optimally and Lewis was just stuck there in the back.”

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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53 comments on “Hamilton deserves better car than “un-driveable” Mercedes – Wolff”

  1. Not mentioned in the article, but Hamilton’s inability to break as late as he use to, is a key reason why he struggled to overtake. The wet conditions haven’t helped, in fact it exposed the safety aspects of this car in the wet with porposing, aka fluctuating downforce. All this means even at the slower speeds Hamilton could not take the car to its limits.

    1. Not sure about ‘inability.’ He’s learnt to be easier on the tyres over the years and won plenty of times because of that skill. Maybe he needs to readapt – depends on how long Mercedes’s problems persist and whether he’s interested still overall if they don’t find a solution.

      1. It’s not dissimilar to the issue Riccardo had when he went from Red Bull to Renault. He was the late braking master but couldn’t find the confidence in the brakes at Renault. I’m thinking the way the Mercedes currently porpoises he can’t find the confidence in the brakes, which seems not to be as much of an issue when running on your own (as Russell and Hamilton have both shown).

  2. Calling it undrivable’s probably unfair given Russell’s getting some respectable performances out of it. If what he’s meaning is that it’s not a machine deserving of a world champion then he’s right – but welcome to the same place Alonso & Vettel have been at for a while.

    1. Indeed, there’s not enough praise for russell in his comment if the car is really undriveable.

    2. No. That’s even a larger praise for Russell – if he can get to P4 in an “undrivable” car. The car obviously isn’t undrivable – it’s a very good car. It’s just that Hamilton isn’t good enough in it.

      1. wow big surprise =/

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        24th April 2022, 22:22

        It’s easier to upgrade than it is to downgrade. If you upgrade your tennis racquet to one that’s more stable, you’ll start hitting a lot more accurately but if you downgrade from a stable racquet to a bad one, it’s much harder to control and it’s NOT easy to fix that.

        The Mercedes is an upgrade for Russell so he’s enjoying it. The current Mercedes is a downgrade for Hamilton and judging by the inability of the car to even reach Gasly’s wheels on straights where all anyone needs to do is to press the gas down, it’s a pretty big downgrade.

        1. Great point, had not considered that at all. I hope Merc can fix their car quick, so we can see a proper battle between George and Hamilton. At the moment, the way he is getting trashed is embarrassing to watch.

    3. Agreed, Russell seems to just be doing a better job at the moment with the tools at his disposal. If Hamilton was ahead of Russell all the time I’d agree with this statement, but as they are relatively even it’s a bit of a strange thing for Wolff to say.

  3. It’s not undriveable. It had brilliant traction and grip in the slow speed corners. Wolff is just exaggerating because their expectations are higher. They better fix the car before Baku or tracks with long straights. Otherwise, their drivers may not survive the race and may have no spine after the race. Imagining a spine problem just gives me anxiety and scary feelings.

    1. spain is do or die for merc

      1. no spine in Spain but mostly in the plain

    2. No spine anymore? That will definitely help with weight reduction.

    3. Baku’s going to be a nightmare for everyone, I think.

  4. Russel has edge on 1 lapp 2 2 this season but races george overtook kmag that was it the gap aing as big as it looks bottas aint on lh level and he was right behind russel. Ham race pace id say been ok this yr. He always seems in drs train. These rbull fans can be quiet this yr its a 2 team championship yet they can overtake easy on straights. They use ti moan like hell with Lewis engine. Perez is awful yet look at him at the minute. Man made Button and Ocon look like Senna over a lap

    1. I think perez has been pretty good this season compared to the past, ferrari this season is good competition so far, just like mercedes was last year.

  5. Every driver deserves a better car. Lewis has had a big share of luck with the material available to him for over a decade. No reason to feel particularly sorry for him. The rest of the field has had non competitive material for years and years.

    1. That’s a very fair comment.

      Lewis landed on his feet when he moved to Mercedes but it could easily have gone a different way.

      The careers of Vettel and Alonso show what might lie ahead for Hamilton if Mercedes struggle to catch-up with Ferrari and Red Bull.

      1. Indeed, and that’s when a podium in such a car (like alonso last year, after many years without) might count more than a win in the dominant years.

    2. Exactly, a driver or team can’t have it all, all the time. What has eventuated with Hamilton/Merc is no different to what we saw with previous champions too like Schumacher, Vettel and Alonso. It was all a matter of time and that time came for Hamilton and Mercedes.

  6. I hope Mercedes find a fix to the bouncing. They’ll probably be right in the mix when they do. But that’s a pretty Toto comment, even for someone like Toto…

  7. Bit rich considering the only other driver of his generation at his level has been slumming at the back for the last 10 years. Also a tad melodramatic considering its already had 2 podiums and his team mate is 4th in the standings.

    1. Indeed, obviously sainz lost a lot of points through mistakes\bad luck, but the car might allow 5th place in the driver’s championship and 3rd in the constructors’ as things are, obviously if you end up 9 places behind your team mate you’re not extracting the best from the car.

  8. I think it’s confirmed Russell is the real deal, but I think there is a clear difference in motivation between two merc drivers. HAM went from driving the best car on the grid for years to a midfield car, and is struggling. Russel upgraded to a midfield car and is eager to prove himself against the best driver of the previous generation.
    I’m not yet sure which driver is Mercedes’ present, but Russell is surely their future.

  9. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    24th April 2022, 19:25

    Mercedes deserves a more motivated inspired driver. What an unacceptable poor and plain drive from Hamilton.

    Russell clearly showed the car isn’t that bad, Lewis is just unable to drive a sub top car that isn’t 0,5 second faster than the rest of the field.

    Being spoiled for the last 8 years with a superior car has extinguished the fire in Lewis to fight in the midfield.

    1. Indeed, think he was more of a fighter in similar situations in the mclaren years.

    2. Don’t forget George made up most of his places at the beginning of the first lap, looks like he got lucky somewhere. After that I don’t recall him making many more overtakes, so it’s not at all clear whether he would have been able to overtake the cars in the drs train that Lewis was unable to.

  10. Hamilton needed a cracking first lap like Russell to get a respectable result today. Today exposed Mercedes’ weaknesses, which are (porpoising aside) too much drag and a general lack of downforce (most noticeable through highspeed corners). Plus the Mercedes PU isn’t the class of the field anymore. I doubt Mercedes has a massive disadvantage on the power side, but nevertheless they are still lacking a bit in that department.
    Russell’s pace in clean air wasn’t nothing to shout about either. After his amazing first lap, he later managed to overtake Magnussen, who was rather slow anyway, and that was it. He didn’t have the pace to make up any ground on Norris and got caught by Bottas who was more than 12 sec behind Russell after the pit stop and unsurprisingly failed to overtake a slower car.
    I guess Russell was right when he claimed that Mercedes only had the 5th fastest car in Australia. Today it certainly was the 5th fastest car at best, as McLaren and especially Alfa Romeo showed better pace. Even Tsunoda was lapping at a faster pace towards the end of the race.
    Nevertheless a stunning performance by Russell! But Mercedes has a lot of work to do to fix their issues, otherwise McLaren will jump them in the fight for P3 in the constructors’ championship.

    1. Absolutely, in a normal ranking this is what gets you a 9 or a 10 (russell), making the best of opportunities early in the race and then defending well when your car is no longer fast enough for the position you brought it to.

    2. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      25th April 2022, 1:16

      Mercedes has a probem that has existed for years. One, their cars are always bad in traffic. Two, they run their races very conservatively and rely on data and the driver too much. The problem is the driver will never have a global perspective of a race and computer modeling can only do so much. If they operated with a racing instinct they would have pitted out of sequence and gambled rather than follow a DRS train from start to finish.

      1. I agree those are cultural team flaws that were previously masked by a superior car and a good driver.

  11. What is everyone harping on about. I don’t see too much difference in their performance today. Nor in their overall performances after 4 races. This race, it was all down to the start. Russell managed to make up some places, Hamilton got stuck further back. His race was done once the DRS train was started.

    So other than a great and fortuitous start by Russell. That is all their final finishing positions were down to. You can read anything more into it. Other than getting pass a Haas that burned through it’s tyres, Russell could make no further progress. Hamilton could do nothing about the train he was stuck behind. What were people expecting, he’s not a magician.

    People reading so much into things after 4 races is pretty hilarious. At the moment it seems whomever nails the tiny set-up window on the car and manages a good quali is in the better position. So if you wanted to give something to Russell, he certainly has nailed quali. But with such a poorly performing car, we really don’t know what experimentation is going on to try and sort it out.

    But, I guess people have nothing better to do than write off hamilton after 4 races.

    1. well said

    2. are… are you trying to make sense?
      what level headed drivel is this?!

      please see yourself out this instant!

    3. Somebody with a Basic comprehension of f1 racing in here? Refreshing

    4. We’re not necessarily writing hamilton off, but 70% of the fans expected he’d beat russell this year (I voted for russell along with the other 30%) and he’s not doing that, ofc circumstances matter too, but if you analyse what was under their control, russell still wins this race, hamilton wins in australia due to the VSC thing, russell wins in jeddah and hamilton wins in bahrain, but the 2 wins russell got were far more crushing than the ones hamilton got, simply because hamilton hasn’t been consistently close to the potential of the car, while russell has.

      1. MPH (@mhaynes652)
        26th April 2022, 1:19

        The season is 22/23 race season, this is the 4th race. Cool your fingers

    5. @mach1 I agree, if you look at the charts GR had free air, while LH was stuck in a queue, practically all race. GR living up to his “Mr Saturday” alias.
      The car was terrible this weekend, they did well to extract some speed, but the ride was reportedly appallingly bad.
      MB have to get working, they _are_ the current champions. I expect miracles…. and they need a few…

    6. Again we’ll said. A sensible analysis.

  12. Has there been any reason given why Mercedes hasn’t gone back to the build they had in the Barcelona test? It seemed much more competitive than the current build.

    1. @talus21 I think you answer your own question. If that was true, they would be running that car.
      Mercedes, like any team, are data driven, they must see more potential at the moment with the current car, if/when they can fix the instability. I’m surprised they have not got it right, I must say it makes for an interesting year.

  13. Vettel and Alonso, the other former multiple champions, have been driving the really undrivable cars for years, or in the case of Alonso – decades, and we don’t get an article about it.

  14. George un-drove it to 4th, but what can you do, stuck in the DRS crazy train? 3 places behind Stroll(!), and tsix behind Tsunoda, doesn’t look good. “Plan D” and fresh tyres would have just sent them to the back. But at least the “second” car is getting strong results, and the change seems to have done Bottas and Alfa good too.

  15. Merc can leave F1 and enter the World Pogo Championship, they are sure to win

    1. With Ferrari close 2nd :)

  16. Really disappointed in the entire Mercedes team except for Russell. The pit crew is horrendous and has been for years. The car is garbage and they don’t seem to have a clue as to how to fix it. It is one thing to be beaten by the top teams like Red Bull and Ferrari but the Mercedes is struggling against almost all other manufacturers. A lot of people have left the organization for other teams in the past couple of years. Have to assume that all of the praise and money was going to Wolff and Hamilton and none of the “love” was shared with the rest of the team. What really goes on behind the doors of Mercedes?

    1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      25th April 2022, 1:11

      At the end of the day, money talks. RB and Merc bases are not that far from each other. If RB was willing to pay much more, I don’t see how Merc can keep all of their people. Merc F1 isn’t as loaded as people think compared to RB and Ferrari. Merc is 1/3 owned by Toto, 1/3 by Ineos and 1/3 by Daimler. As a company it has a lof more restrictions than its competitors. Daimler puts relatively little money into the team.

  17. Haha russel took just 1 race to start wrecking lewis. Its 3 to 1 now and almost twice the points. Lewis should retire like seb.

  18. BW (@deliberator)
    25th April 2022, 3:08

    Obviously Hamilton hasn’t forgotten how to drive overnight and it’s still early days in the new season as far as the intra-team battle is concerned. But what is for sure is that he can’t afford too many days like Imola where he is comprehensively outperformed by his teammate. Otherwise he risks having his reputation dismantled, much in the way Vettel’s was in 2014 by Ricciardo. As the saying goes, “you’re only as good as your last race”, so he’d better get his skates on and make sure that, at the very least, he holds his own against Russell.

  19. How fast can one Hamilton turn into a Bottas

  20. To be fair, George has far more experiences than Lewis on handling uncompetitive car.

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