Hamilton’s 2021 fightback shows he can rebound after Imola low – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the adversity Lewis Hamilton has faced in the past shows he can recover following his tough race in Imola.

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In brief

“Real star” Hamilton will fight back – Wolff

After Hamilton struggled to a point-less 13th in Imola, Wolff said: “It’s not his low, I think it’s the low of the car performance.”

He is certain Hamilton, who narrowly missed out on winning a record eighth world championship last year, will be back in competitive shape once the team makes some progress with his car.

“We know that he’s a seven-time world champion,” said Wolff. “He caught up last year, him and us at the team, we caught it up and fought for the championship [after] it was lost actually Saturday of Brazil. So the guy is the best driver in the world and he’s just not having a machine and equipment underneath him and to be able to execute.”

Wolff said other great drivers in F1 history have recovered from difficult spells. “The real stars, they have recovered. There is none out of the really great ones that come into my mind that didn’t have certain moments in their careers where things didn’t run properly. And that is the case now with him since a long time.

“He’s going to help the team to sort itself out and we are sticking together through good and bad times.”

Gen3 car justifies why Jaguar joined Formula E – Barclay

Jaguar Formula E team principal James Barclay says that the newly unveiled Gen3 car has the ‘correct ingredients’ for the future of the electric series.

Being introduced from the 2023 season, the new Gen3 car is lighter and more powerful than the current-spec of Formula E car. Barclay says that the new model has the ‘correct ingredients’ for the future.

“At the heart of it, what justifies why we came into this sport, what continues to justify why we wanted to commit to the future, is the core ingredients are absolutely correct for the future,” said Barclay.

“The fact is we’re the pinnacle of all-electric racing. And there’ll be other categories come the future, but Formula E is the pinnacle of electric racing. That is really kind of fundamental to the heart of it, because Jaguar as a brand from 2025, becomes all-electric model luxury brand.”

Quotes: Hazel Southwell

Andretti, Fittipaldi, Montoya named Miami Grand Prix ‘ambassadors’

Three former grand prix winners from North and South America have been named as ambassadors for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix next weekend.

Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi and Juan Pablo Montoya will be ambassadors for the event, held around the Miami International Autodrome, circling the Hard Rock Stadium home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team.

“Having lived in this part of the world for a long time, I’m very excited that we will be able to showcase all that Miami and South Florida has to offer,” said Montoya.

“It’s an attractive place, so equally for Formula 1 to come here and bring the glamour, technology and exciting racing will mean the Miami Grand Prix will be a truly unforgettable experience.”

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Comment of the day

After Carlos Sainz Jnr’s frustrating start to the season, reader Gusmaia thinks that the newly re-signed Ferrari driver is about to enter a critical phase of his tenure with the team…

In fact, Sainz does not need confidence. He needs a load of points and even some wins from here to Monaco. Otherwise, Ferrari will be totally justified to concentrate on Leclerc. The team really likes to push for a #1 driver. If only one driver has the luck/talent to win and to beat Redbull, then Sainz will have to accept a #2 role. Plus, is 2023 starts with Leclerc World Champion, the rest of his Carlos contract wil be like that.
Gusmaia

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On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1967 Mike Parkes won the non-championship BRDC International Trophy driving a Ferrari 312.

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Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 54 comments on “Hamilton’s 2021 fightback shows he can rebound after Imola low – Wolff”

    1. Best driver in the world from toto wolff is absolutely a wrong claim, there’s no basis thinking about last year’s form that hamilton is better than verstappen or probably even leclerc, because yes, leclerc made plenty of mistakes, but when you got that kind of car where you can only rarely attempt for a win, like leclerc had last year, it’s a different type of racing than when you have a top car and need to fight for the championships and score consistently.

      And while hamilton drove better as the season progressed last year, he also had the clear best car in the last 4 races, so that helps: interlagos, qatar, jeddah and abu dhabi.

      Curious to see if he can drive well with a bad car, something he wasn’t able to show a lot in his career, so far this year not impressed but that’s what I would like to see, a top driver should be able to do a good job with a bad car, like the various alonso, schumacher did or russell is doing now.

      1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
        29th April 2022, 4:20

        You strike me as the goal shifting type. I can prove all your claims wrong with facts but that won’t matter to you.

      2. As usual your usual anti-HAM comment, with all your distored views. The most successful driver ever achieved everything just cause he had a unbeatable car – laughable.

        VER and HAM had pretty even cars when compared throughout the whole last season. Both easily outdrove their teammates. HAM kept driving on professionell standards, while VER drifted into his yield-or-crash style. HAM would have won but Masi decided to manipulate and gift the WDC, cause FIA/liberty wanted a new champ for commercial reasons.

        1. Steveetienne
          30th April 2022, 7:31

          Yesterday’s man, soon to be retired. Probably has won his last F1 race.

      3. While it is always difficult to assess a driver vs others given their material has such impact on their performance, it is clear that Lewis is one of the better drivers but not the best. His 2021 comeback had everything to do with technology and politics (tyre changes in season, wing gate, pit stop timing requirements, interpretation of the limited nr of engines rule) from his team (or non team related circumstances) rather than him upping his game (and some occasional bumping the main competitor off track). Likewise his tally of 7 is heavily distorted by the sheer dominance the Mercedes car had during the entire V6 hybrid era. But understandably Toto must call him the best like he will call some one else the same the minute Lewis no longer drives for Mercedes. Lewis is a talented driver who achieved a lot, but I can’t take him for a 7 times champion level vs greats of the past, that happened due to luck (the car being dominant for such a long streak). It would be an insult to those drivers of the past as he relatively belongs to that group but certainly does not outshine them.

      4. Statistics don’t lie: Hamilton is the most successful driver of all time in F1. He is a centurion after all.

        That does not make him the GOAT in F1 however. Other factors come into play, like overcoming adversity against all odds, and being part of race battles that will be remembered for a long time. Ideally you would also need outspoken antagonists to push the racing to the limit. I think we have those aplenty with the current generation of F1 Drivers, so the stage is already set. May the Greatest Of All Time rise to the top.

        1. Does anyone remember those years when the Ham detractors go to retort in respect of any Hamilton praise was ‘well the statistics don’t lie’. That one disappeared for quite a few years didn’t it. Nice to see they have bought it back.
          Of course there is no point arguing they are driving different programs with different setups to get to the bottom of their issues, or that without one fortuitous SC it would be two podiums to nil for Ham, etc.
          So I’ll just wait for the ‘George is just a second rate driver like Bottas and Nico’, ‘George has been relegated to the No 2 spot’. ‘He’s not allowed to overtake Ham’ comments to know he has been doing a little better than George for a few races. Or better still as a Merc fan ‘It’s the car!’ when George starts putting manners on Max and Charles.

      5. leclerc made plenty of mistakes, but when you got that kind of car where you can only rarely attempt for a win, like leclerc had last year, it’s a different type of racing than when you have a top car and need to fight for the championships and score consistently.

        That’s the key reason why Russell is currently out-performing Hamilton. The Mercedes is no longer the best car in the pack as it has been for the best part of the last decade and it now requires a few more risks to be taken. Russell is doing that and Hamilton isn’t. Unless the Mercedes improves dramatically, Hamilton is going to have to adapt his style or he’s going to get left behind by Russell.

      6. What Toto is really saying is that Mercedes has the worst car on the grid.

        I hope this comparision to last yea also means, like last year, they have upgrades which will turn things around.

        Otherwise there is no ‘rebounding’, expect ofcourse where the porposing is concerned. I just hope by Monoco they have a handle on this problem, otherwise they’ll be lucky to achieve 13th position there.

    2. So the guy is the best driver in the world and he’s just not having a machine and equipment underneath him and to be able to execute.

      You’d almost think that the guy on the other side of the garage didn’t come home 9 places ahead.

      1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
        29th April 2022, 4:22

        I love how selective you guys are about where and when to apply context.

        1. I love how some people put so much effort into defending their favourites.

          1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
            29th April 2022, 19:31

            I love how original you are.

            1. I just love you all… :)

      2. Let’s not forget as we make this comparison between the drivers, that Mercedes are presently using the races to ‘test theories’ on how they overcome the porposing. As a result Hamilton is carring extra monitoring equipment, and has other duties beyond ‘simply’ racing the car.

        Also Hamilton is also significantly older than Russell, in a car which isn’t just bad, but is also physically demanding. We’ve has reports of Russell complaining of chest pains because of the porposing, so lord knows what Hamilton is enduring at his age. None of the other drivers has it this bad.

        The normal simple comparision of stats wont make any sense until we are over this design issue. The bottom line is Mercedes are relying on Hamilton’s experiance and feedback to help them fix the car.

    3. All Lewis needs to do is to start that “driving around the cars problems” thing. I believe he is famous for it.

      1. He was really good at it about ten years ago, when he was the only one able to compete with Seb for poles. But it seems like, having had the best car for so long, he’s kind of lost that skill at Mercedes.

        1. I’ve been a Kimi fan since I began watching F1 in 2005 and I’ve hated Lewis for taking his throne in 2008. But over the years I’ve understood different drivers and what are their strengths and weaknesses. What really impressed me about Lewis was his ability to bounce back stronger every time. He’s got an amazing quality of using the negativity, bad performances and press to improve further by channeling his emotions in the right way and in the right areas. I dont know if he’s the best or not, but I do know that’s how champions live and approach their areas of expertise. I’m sure he will come back stronger. I’m not surprised George is playing himself down after performing so well against him. He knows whatever his issues that he is dealing with(possibly still healing from last year), once he gets rejuvenated, he’s going to hit the next level. You don’t just become a 7/8 times world champion just like that.

          1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
            29th April 2022, 4:36

            What you’ve pointed out here is probably what annoys his detractors so much. Just when they think they have him pinned he responds even stronger. Rather than acknowledge that strength they would rather dismiss it as having the stronger XYZ or weaker teammate.

          2. You don’t just become a 7/8 times world champion just like that.

            True.
            In F1, you do it in superior machinery.

            1. True. A superior machinery that he Earned it to have for so many years. It’s never just the machine. Man is as important as the machine in F1.

            2. A superior machinery that he Earned it to have for so many years

              Earned? He certainly got lucky, and then did sufficiently well to keep his place. Mind you, driving isn’t the only reason. F1 is marketing…

              It’s never just the machine. Man is as important as the machine in F1.

              It isn’t just the machine, of course. But it is mostly the machine, along with the enormous team of skilled people who design, develop and tune it.

            3. Funny thing

              You may not be aware but most are usually astute enough to observe…..

              Racing in F1 requires each team to have TWO cars

            4. And there’s never ever any intra-team politics or anything between those two sides of the garage, is there @drgraham

            5. They all start the year at zero

              Mercedes has been fairer on its two drivers than any other team for the past eight years

              Pretending different is just plain fa blindness

            6. Mercedes has been fairer on its two drivers than any other team for the past eight years
              Pretending different is just plain fa blindness

              Yeah, someone is blind.
              Rosberg and Bottas never got told to move over when leading, or to back off when behind and looking to attack even once, did they… And the team would never think of fiddling with strategies to force specific outcomes either, would they…?
              Especially not when the team were getting 1-2’s anyway, and were dominating the Constructors championship…

          3. I feel those comebacks had a fair amount of technology and therefore luck in them. He is, followed by Seb, truly one of the most lucky drivers of all time if not the luckiest. It would suit a true champion to give credit where credit is due. I am still waiting on this reflective insight into his achievements. Maybe when he is retired.

        2. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
          29th April 2022, 4:31

          Or maybe some people like to socialize his wins but privatize his loses. By that I mean some people will say his wins are because of the car but his loses are down to him alone. You guys want to have your cake and eat it too. Gee…I wonder why the car argument only goes in one direction. And of course you’ll reply, because GR finished 4th. If you think position is all that matters without context, why isn’t anyone talking about Alonso? He has only 5 points to Ocon’s 20. Gets even worse when you look at their standings in the championship.

          1. If you think position is all that matters without context, why isn’t anyone talking about Alonso? He has only 5 points to Ocon’s 20.

            A few mechanical reliability issues there, @threepurplesectors.
            Speaking of context and selective use of statistics….

            1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
              29th April 2022, 5:10

              Thanks for proving my point. You do understand things happen beyond the drivers control…you just selectively choose not to apply that reasoning to ALL the drivers.

            2. Me? I do apply it to all drivers, @threepurplesectors.
              Hamilton’s performance at Imola was poor, especially relative to his team mate.
              But don’t worry, other drivers had a less than ideal weekend also. Would you feel better if we discussed them too, despite this article being about Hamilton?

          2. You’re reading an awful lot into two sentences. And for what it’s worth, Schumacher basically went through the same thing. He smashed the 95 championship in what was clearly an inferior car, and he also outperformed his cars in 96-98. But in 05-06, and especially 10-12, after having been in a dominant Ferrari for so long, he didn’t outperform the car the same way he used to. It’s only natural that drivers who have an amazing car for a long time adjust their style to get the most out if it and struggle for a while as they re-adjust to a worse car.

            1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
              29th April 2022, 15:46

              I typically don’t engage with people who consider themselves to be moderates/neutrals. IMO, they are deluding themselves into thinking they are above it all. I’d much rather talk to fans or detractors of LH. Arguing about the car vs driver is the biggest red herring. Why argue about a constant? Why do people bring it up if that constant is true for every driver and champion that has ever existed? I just can’t be bothered to retort someone who gives LH faint praise especially when they start hedging and adding caveats.

          3. @threepurplesectors – Whilst that’s definitely true, you surely can also see how the opposite is true as well… Plenty have argued Hamilton is the best F1 driver of all time but now that he’s struggling, it’s all down to the car….

            The truth is, he had an incredible car and he drove extremely well and the two combined, meant he was unbeatable. Now he’s got a upper-midfield car and he’s not driving anywhere near as well as he can and that leads to results like we saw in Imola. It’s never solely down to the car or the driver – it’s a combination of both and neither Mercedes or Hamilton are doing a satisfactory job at the moment.

            1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
              29th April 2022, 15:47

              I typically don’t engage with people who consider themselves to be moderates/neutrals. IMO, they are deluding themselves into thinking they are above it all. I’d much rather talk to fans or detractors of LH. Arguing about the car vs driver is the biggest red herring. Why argue about a constant? Why do people bring it up if that constant is true for every driver and champion that has ever existed? I just can’t be bothered to retort someone who gives LH faint praise especially when they start hedging and adding caveats.

      2. Fyi the other merc driver has already mastered it and is 4th in the championship.

    4. On the one hand, Hamilton did mount an impressive fightback in 2021. On the other hand, he’s going to find it hard to punt both of the championship contenders out of the race to kick-start his comeback.

      1. What fightback? He never was behind very far?

    5. I’m sure he can rebound, but probably not soon enough for this season’s championship battle.

      Symonds’ words are encouraging & hopefully, reality will match them.

      Sainz has time for properly joining this season’s WDC battle, but he needs to start outscoring the two main protagonists, especially his teammate, as otherwise, #2 status would become his faith for the remaining season.
      I reckon this could happen if the points gap keeps on growing over the next five races.

      1. Pat Symonds’ words are very concerning.
        If anyone dislikes a DRS train now, just imagine how it will be when every car has it on every straight at every circuit.

        1. @S Active suspension is different.

          1. Indeed it is, @jerejj.
            It’s even worse.

    6. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      29th April 2022, 10:15

      So the guy is the best driver in the world

      Correction: second-best driver in the world

      Silly Toto :’)

    7. I don’t think all these comments buttering up Lewis is great management of the driver who is actually 4th in the championship in the same car and finished 9 positions higher in the last race. Russell could win the next 9 races and Toto would be bleating how unfair it is for poor Lewis.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        29th April 2022, 12:48

        @brum55 I think Russell is just happy to finally be there. He’s a very quick driver, that’s a well-known fact. The team has known all its success with Lewis over the past decade. If Russell can bring in good results, the team is appreciative as we’ve seen.

        Are you complaining that Toto is saying nice things when the car decelerated next to an Alpha Tauri for 20 laps? We’ve never seen that in F1 where a car is so slow compared to the front car, let alone a Mercedes powered car.

        If the car didn’t drop back, Gasly and Albon were history.

        1. It wasn’t slow next to an Alpha Tauri. If it was Hamilton would not have been able to follow Gasly for the entire race. He couldn’t overtake him because he was in a DRS train but even before he couldn’t make a move despite Russel being able to on Magnussen, without the DRS.

    8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      29th April 2022, 12:42

      I’m not sure if he can do it in a car that bounces like that – that’s a different skill altogether.

    9. Interesting story coming out about Hamilton’s involvement in one of the bids to buy Chelsea…. A rival bid has been lodged by Ineos who own 33% of Mercedes F1.

    10. I know it is early days with these cars, but to me so far the LH/GR situation right now so reminds me of SV and DR in 2014.

      I have defended SV for 2014, and have been shot down for my theory by some around here but I’m still convinced of it and I see parallels at Mercedes right now, and I defend LH the same way.

      I see an LH who has had his WCC fits-like-a-glove car taken away from him and replaced by something that is relatively unrecognizable to him, and not a race winning car (while the 2014 RBR did have a bit of success but nothing like the previous seasons) and that has to be extremely hard to swallow. Same with SV at RBR in 2014. Neither driver suddenly forgot how to win from one season to the next.

      Then we have GR coming in to the best car he’s ever had in F1, in spite of it’s shortcomings, so he is stoked. Same as DR was back in 2014. GR and DR didn’t suddenly just become WDC beaters, at least not beaters of WDCers that are in their peak with a WCC car. There is to me something significant about the psychological aspect of what is going on here that seems what are to me very similar scenarios as I have cited.

      Some who have shot me down for this theory have said no it was still up to SV to just suck it up and do better…same chances as DR…same car…etc etc. OK perhaps, but would those same people say the same of LH now? Perhaps. I think it is (obviously to me at least) way easier said than done, particularly when your dream run in your dream car has been turned upside down, and the new young teammate comes in and only thinks and feels in his bones he’s in the best car he’s ever had. As well DR then and GR now were/are in the far lesser pressure zones. Be bested by their proven WDC teammate and it’s no surprise, but best him and it’s gravy. DR then, GR now can skip along in a fairly good mood, seeing light at the end of the tunnel. SV then, LH now see a lot of darkness and the tunnel blocked off and needing much repair, from their relative standpoint. That can’t be easy.

      1. I expect someone who is seen by many as the best to be able to drive around such issues. If not, than what exactly makes him a great driver? As regards to Vettel, he never won if not starting from the first row. He is partially gifted, fast without traffic, mediocre when in traffic. He should cherish his achievements and feel very lucky about them.

        1. I think the reality is, as we all know, in motor racing the abilities of the car are crucial. That is obvious. Even the very best can only do so much with a troublesome car. Pretty sure most experts would say the car is anywhere from 80% to 95% of the equation. I think that for the most part when a great driver has shown something great in a poor car, that was on a particular day, but on average over a season, no, even the very best can only do so much if the equipment isn’t there.

          As I say SV didn’t suddenly forget how to win in 2014, and I’m sure LH hasn’t forgotten how to win this season. So as to your suggestion they should just be able to drive around the issues, surely you have seen enough to know that is way oversimplifying it.

          1. Fair points, but I would expect at the very least from them to beat their team mates on every occasion (as token of their status of being one of the best)

    11. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      29th April 2022, 20:29

      That’s strange…my comments keep getting tagged for review. Either they are being “tactically” reported and giving the good people of this site busy work for nothing or…

    12. Alternatively… you could recognise Imola was an exception weekend. It was the first ‘sprint weekend’ of the new era, and assumed the cars were already largely prepared, and not still in the throws of design issues.

      Where Mercedes would take all 3 days to adjust the car to the circuit, the sprint weekend only allowed them a day. After that the cars together with their setup from the sprints was held in parc ferme for the main race. Mercedes would have gambled on the setup of the two cars. Hamilton may have gambled on the setup of his car. Either way it paid off for one driver but not the other. Also it was a wet weekend with the obvious greater reliance of breaks and consistent downforce. In short it was an accident waiting to happen.

      Let us hope with more time to prepare and with the upgrades promised for Miami, they are somehow able to turn things around.

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