Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Poor Mercedes pace ‘doesn’t make sense but I have to laugh it off’ – Hamilton

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said the performance of his Mercedes was “way, way worse” than he expected in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The team took pole position for the previous race in Hungary and brought updates for this weekend’s race, raising expectations of their performance at Spa-Francorchamps. However Hamilton, the team’s top qualifier, was 1.8 seconds off pace-setter Max Verstappen in Q3.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Hamilton. “I tried everything. I put everything on, I put everything off, changed wings, changed set-up. I’ve done everything this weekend, tried a lot of things. And it’s surprising to see us – maybe they’ve moved forwards, I don’t know if they’ve got upgrades or not, but it’s difficult.”

Hamilton had been unperturbed by the team’s apparent lack of pace after practice yesterday, pointing out they tend to lag behind on Fridays. “I never thought we would be two seconds off,” he admitted. “It’s way, way worse than I thought.”

However Hamilton said he has a responsibility not to allow the car’s lack of performance to get him down. “I don’t want to use the word ‘disappointment’ because you’ve got to remember there’s 2,000 people back at the factory who are working so hard to get it right,” he said.

“Of course I wish that we’d got it right and we brought upgrades that brought us forward. I wish we were fighting at the front but it isn’t the way it is.

“It hurts, believe me, it hurts. But at this point you’ve just got to laugh it off and say ‘I’m not fighting for a championship’. If I get too serious and too low, I’ve got a responsibility to try and keep morale high. You’ve got to keep pushing, You can’t be discouraged. Yes, it sucks and it’s slow.”

He said the team has to focus on ensuring next year’s car does not inherit the problematic traits of their W13.

“We can’t change anything overnight so all we can do is just work with what we have,” he said. “We don’t know how fast or slow we’re going to be tomorrow. It’ll be a surprise if we’re closer than we think, that’s the biggest gap we’ve ever had in qualifying.

“What we will do is talk about meetings we’re going to have next week and talk about the steps, where we want to be with next year’s car. What are the problems here, what we can take from our understanding of the data we have here and apply it to make sure the next car is not like this one at all. That’s what we’re working on, that’s what I’m trying to work on.”

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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25 comments on “Poor Mercedes pace ‘doesn’t make sense but I have to laugh it off’ – Hamilton”

  1. Makes perfect sense when you’re the only team bringing a new floor to the Grand Prix that your wishlist of mid-season rules changes come into effect.

    1. “What we will do is talk about meetings we’re going to have next week and talk about the steps, where we want to be with next year’s car. What are the problems here, what we can take from our understanding of the data we have here and apply it to make sure the next car is not like this one at all. That’s what we’re working on, that’s what I’m trying to work on.”

      Perhaps he’s not good at dealing with technical issues.

    2. So RBR and Ferrari still use their flex-floors, and those floors are still allowed? Seems like RBR owns FIA since the last races of last season.

      1. Itsmeagain (@)
        27th August 2022, 19:20

        So when your favorite team and driver can’t win it must be those ‘illegal’ flexfloors? Hilarious, Even a midseason rulechange didn’t help them. Must be harsh for you

        1. maybe use your brain before commenting?

          i was refering to the statement, that other teams kept their known gray-area flex-floors, despite the rule change. would imply that those floors are still allowed.

          1. Itsmeagain (@)
            30th August 2022, 20:20

            Maybe read what exactly was the rulechange at Spa before you post such trash…alk.

    3. I would like you to support that assertion with quotes. Specifically the “childishly attack […] Hamilton” part.

    4. John Ballantyne
      28th August 2022, 8:29

      Nice work at staying positive Lewis.

  2. Mercedes pace or better the results of the last races were influenced by mistakes by others.
    The mercedes is very reliable but that seems the only strong point.
    Looking at some shots in the garage it even looks as if some body parts did not fit right. Very sloppy work.
    Whats wrong with mercedes? Do they just try to change the outcome by pointing at others?
    Still believing in a concept that seemed very flawed from the start?
    The other issue is the fact mercedes seems to think they develop in the right direction ( is that really the case?) and think other teams are frozen in development ( or hampered by changing directives)

    Russell and Toto suggested that Red Bull was using parts in a grey area of the rules. And of course Mercedes never would do such despicable things.. So Spa would show the real pace… it did..

    1. True. It’s unbelievable. Lewis situation is ridiculous at the moment.. You can like HAM or not, but he’s an outstanding driver, i kinda feel for him.. Wish for him he can try to win championship next year, losing it in the last lap is almost better than just being 2 seconds off at this first lap.. Of course young drivers take over, at the moment Max is doing that very much indeed. but toto got a winning team thrown into his lap eight years ago. Starting from scratch, he can’t do anything with this team. “it’s my responsibility to give Lewis a proper car” What a joke this guy.. So do we all find out now that it was mercedes with the flexible floor??

      1. I don’t see what’s so bad about hamilton’s situation, other drivers have had periods where they were in underperforming cars, think alonso.

  3. The Mercedes engine has looked relatively underpowered all season. I get Hamilton wants to stay optimistic, but really, for Mercedes standards, this year they’ve produced a rubbish design all round.

  4. In 2020, the year they completely dominated, Mercedes launched ‘Accelerate 25’ Diversity & Inclusion Programme:

    The Mercedes F1 Team is excited to announce Accelerate 25, a five-year programme to mark the formalisation of our vision to become a more diverse and inclusive team.

    A considerable amount of study, research and work has been undertaken at the team in the past months to deepen our understanding in this area and develop our culture and practices.

    To begin this new Accelerate 25 programme, we aim to continuously raise our standards of entry and until 2025, we aim for at least 25% of all new starters at our team to come from under-represented groups.

    To enhance our understanding internally, the team is embedding Diversity and Inclusion more deeply within our values and behaviours. We have also begun our education programme with around 200 recruiters at the team having completed Unconscious Bias training, 150 managers completing a programme called ‘Inclusive Excellence’ and all managers will have completed this course by the end of the year.

    Every employee will have participated in Diversity and Inclusion training by June 2021 and the team has started a Diversity and Inclusion forum, to encourage input from our employees from under-represented groups – in order to retain, develop and accelerate our progress.

    In 2021 Red Bull already caught up to them, fighting for both titles in the last race of the season. While Red Bull clearly pushed development of their car, Mercedes didn’t even use tokens available which was very interesting choice. Fast forward to 2022 and the same Red Bull fighting until the last race in 2021, have a car capable of winning from the very start and during almost all grand prix weekends. Meanwhile Mercedes are completely lost, bouncing (literally, heh) between being close to the top two teams and 2 seconds off the pace the next race, but more often than not lagging behind.

    While Mercedes and their staff are busy planning and taking part in diversity courses, Red Bull were building suspension required by 2022 rules and playing with the best aero solution. When Mercedes are happy to let go of employees who gave them 7 consecutive double championships and replace them with diversity quotas instead, Red Bull hired these people, who are now delivering more titles and dominant performances.

    In the previous rules change season, Mercedes transitioned smoothly and remained victorious, because they were solely focused on performance. Now that diversity and inclusion are more important, car is 2 seconds per lap slower at Spa. Must be a complete coincidence.

    1. Oh, you think those employees that example red bull and aston martin hired from mercedes actually made the difference?

      1. Yes. People are the key to success, duh. When Mercedes have been hiring people based solely on meritocracy, they started winning and then dominating for 7 consecutive years. Now that their team is based on identity politics, it’s 2 years of losing. It’s not a coincidence, just as it isn’t with Ferrari under Binotto’s leadership.

  5. Do we know if the weather will be hottest tomorrow? If yes they will perform better. I all the recent decade MB had troubles in low temps.

    1. Edit: In all the recent

  6. I wonder if everyone at the factory are behind the current car concept? I’d have to imagine that there is some grumbling going on about the concept and the decision to stick with it.

    1. I’m sure plenty of people in R&D have seen the light. But usually, in such circumstances, several people in managerial roles have a lot invested in their supposed world-beater design (according to their software tools) being just a little tweak away from showing its theoretically dominant performance in real life.

      And everything we’ve seen from the team publicly suggests that it’s the latter people still holding internal sway.

  7. They are slow as hell on the fast bits. Every single lap they were about .8s slower on S3 alone.

    The car is draggy and the engine seems underpowered. Monza is goning to be another embarassment.

  8. Williams changed their sidepods but show no effect on drag. All I can see is mercedes sticks to fairly large rear wings. I’ve spotted 4 rear wings, the launch spec looks like a parachute, the 2nd version is the parachute but with the top section cutout, the 3rd wing is the most conventional looking one, looks like the AT/alpine/alfa low drag wings and the current one is bigger. They are running one of the biggest wings and they expect to qualify well, how?

  9. It seems that the unusual Mercedes design philosophy just does not work well. It works better in some places than others but overall it’s been a big disappointment. Their car looks very different to most of the others with its flat, virtually missing side pods.

    It will be very interesting to see if they pursue this idea further in 2023. Or if they go for something more similar to Red Bull and Ferrari.

    Their car is really ugly as well to me so from this aspect alone I hope they try something different.

  10. Well, it has been the other way around for many years, so laughing it off seems the way to go

  11. I think James Allison knew this from the beginning. Car design concept/direction… it was going to be a massive gamble which isn’t paying off.

    Maybe switching to 2023 is the way, 1.8 seconds from leaders , 9 races left? Yeah put a pin in it.

  12. I’m a Lewis fan, but I can’t understand how he escaped a penalty on lap 1 – I saw zero gray area i.e. 100% Lewis fault and he should of had a 3 place grid drop handed to him.

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