Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022

Mercedes’ early 2022 form came as “a bit of a shock” to Hamilton

2022 F1 season

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Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, says the team’s downturn in form at the start of the 2022 season came as “a bit of a shock” to Lewis Hamilton.

The team became the dominant force in Formula 1 when the sport introduced its V6 hybrid turbo power units in 2014. It won all eight constructors’ championships between 2014 and 2021, during which time its drivers Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won seven titles. Over the same span, Mercedes won 111 of the 160 grands prix held, with Hamilton accounting for 81 of them to become Formula 1’s most successful ever driver.

With the introduction of new ground effect cars for the 2022 season, however, Mercedes fell behind Red Bull and Ferrari as they struggled with excessive aerodynamic porpoising and bottoming out with their aggressive W13 chassis. After the first 20 of 22 rounds this year, Mercedes are currently without a race win, have taken only a single pole position in Hungary with George Russell, and are on track for their fewest podium finishes of the V6 turbo era.

Mercedes have improved their performance over the course of the season, with Hamilton taking second place behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the last two rounds in the United States and Mexico. However, Shovlin says Mercedes’ lack of performance at the start of the season took some getting used to for the team’s champion driver.

“Lewis is always working hard, super-motivated and desperate to try to win,” Shovlin explained. “I think going from the competitive position that we’ve had in the preceding years, to a really difficult car at the start of the year, was a bit of a shock for him.

“[It was] also a bit of an adjustment for us to get used to effectively racing in the mid-pack for a lot of the early part of the year – having to make a lot of compromises with the car to try to get the best out of it and then learning at the same time. But I think, the same as us as a team, Lewis can also see that we’re definitely going in the right direction.”

With Mercedes catching up with their rivals as the season progressed, Shovlin says the team know what they must do to get back to the front next year.

“We can see a clear route to getting back to a point where we can challenge for pole positions and wins,” said Shovlin.

“You can see with Lewis’ commitment to the team that’s increasing the closer we get, and his commitment to putting in the work on his side to try and help us achieve those goals.”

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Will Wood
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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12 comments on “Mercedes’ early 2022 form came as “a bit of a shock” to Hamilton”

  1. Of course it came as a shock to him, as he as only ever had a bad car for the first part of 2009 in his career, other than that its always been there or thereabouts front running car. He hasn’t ever had to grind out results for a full season with a car that’s way off the pace. And like Mclaren in 09, at least Mercedes have managed to get this years car somewhere near the front. In fact IMO thats why George has been ahead of Lewis so far this year (dont start with the ‘ooo but Lewis was testing parts’ excuse) as George has had a dog of a car to drive since he has been in the sport, so even with all the problems they had at the start of the year, it still probably felt like a rocket ship to George compared to the previous Williams he has driven

    1. Recall “Does 10th pay points?” Or when he wanted to quit when way in the rear? Or when his back hurt oh so bad?

      1. But he did have testing equipment on his car, he did try experimental setups, he did complain about the performance of the car, he did do sim work to help when required… did it all come as a shock, of course it did, did he run from the problem? Doesn’t look like it. Will the team be better off going forwards? Let’s see what happens in March 2023.

  2. He needs some cheese with the wine

    1. I don’t see any vineyard around.

  3. “You can see with Lewis’ commitment to the team that’s increasing the closer we get…. ” Which suggests he wasn’t putting in as much effort at the start of the season and probably was questioning if he should stay. Funny how with better machinery his mojo has come back. While I think there might have been some truth with him experimenting more than George earlier in the season. I think a good portion of those results was down to George being happy to be in a top team and pushing to his limit and Lewis not quite as much.

    1. I hope for his sake that George isn’t pushing to his limit. Do they need another Bottas?

  4. It was almost a given that someone would miss the mark with the new ground effects cars. It happens nearly every time there’s a major change to regulations.

    I was actually surprised it was Mercedes and not one of the others but someone had to be the one with a poorly performing car.

    I suspect that as always, it will take a good two or three seasons for teams to get more parity, and around then they’ll change the regulations. Rinse and repeat.

  5. The amount of testing and developnent work Lewis put inthis year reminds me of another seven-time world champion….

    1. Not even close. Schumacher was banging in multi day testing sessions between gps for years to help develop Benetton and Ferrari. His commitment was legendary.

      I know Ham can’t do the same these days but he could instead be in the sim but chooses not to.

  6. So far no mention of the impact of the Cost Cap on car development, especially the cost to develop out of an initial hole. Considering that Red Bull and to a certain extent Ferrari, are both heading into 2023 with a decent chassis and aero package to work from, they have a double head start and should continue to remain ahead, unless, as Mercedes says, they really have found what was wrong in 2022.
    Problem is, we have to wait till March to find out. Now where did I leave that Time Machine.?

    1. Good points NSB. Whilst the budget cap was well-intentioned, it’s feeling like there are as many drawbacks as benefits. When people first talked about budget caps, the reasoning was to stop the escalating costs, to allow smaller teams to compete, and to make it easier for new teams to enter F1. It wasn’t supposed to stifle engineering development or to allow teams to gain lasting advantage. Last season I felt that as well as having a WDC and WCC, we might as well throw in a WLC, (for Lawyers, or maybe Loopholes). This year I think we need a prize for the accountants.

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