Hamilton has won three world titles with Mercedes, but the Silver Arrows are expected to struggle at the upcoming 2018 season opener. Hamilton believes it is “a bit too early” to count out his team for next year’s title fight as Red Bull and Ferrari have yet to prove their power this winter.
Lewis Hamilton has made it clear that he will not be fighting for the title in 2021. He is willing to let Valtteri Bottas take his spot as a title contender.
IMOLA (Italy) – After dropping 50 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc in Saturday’s sprint race at Imola, Lewis Hamilton has written off his prospects of winning the Formula One championship this year.
After beginning the 21-lap race in 13th position, Hamilton ended 14th in the sprint race, which determines the grid for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The result adds to Hamilton’s poor start to the 2022 season, in which his Mercedes team has failed to match rivals Red Bull and Ferrari’s performance under the new F1 rules.
“Obviously, we’re not battling for the title,” Hamilton told Sky Sports. “However, we are working hard to have a better understanding of the vehicle and to grow and advance during the year. Right now, that’s all we can hope for.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ CEO, stated his team had struck a new low this season when both cars failed to qualify in the top 10 for the first time since 2012.
“We’ve had four races already, and this is the lowest of the four,” he remarked. “It’s clear that we’re nowhere near the front lines of the battle.”
“To say we have a spot among the frontrunners battling for the title would be a little ridiculous.”
What went wrong at Imola for Mercedes?
Mercedes was clearly not in contention for victory in the early races, but the team slid lower down the order at Imola. The lack of performance in Friday’s rainy qualifying practice was attributed to a lack of tyre temperature over a single lap, but Mercedes engineers were optimistic that the car will perform better in race circumstances.
The Imola track is infamous for being tough to overtake on, and Wolff believes Mercedes just lacked the speed to move up the order on Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton is not optimistic about his chances of winning the Formula One title this season. courtesy of Getty Images/Dan Mullan
“I believe what we witnessed today is that we don’t have a vehicle with a sufficient performance difference to overtake some of the middle cars,” Wolff added. “If we were racing in open air, the situation would be same to the past races, but there is just not enough room to pass vehicles.”
“The automobile isn’t fast enough to overtake cars with lap times within 0.4s or 0.5s of each other.”
“It was so terrible, there are no words for it truly!” Hamilton continued regarding his sprint effort.
“We were hoping to get into the top 10, and if we hadn’t been stopped in the train [of vehicles], we would have been able to do so. Today, however, it was not feasible.”
This year, Mercedes has adopted a different automobile idea than its competitors, with a design that has short sidepods and exposes more of the floor’s top surface. One of the car’s biggest issues has been its tendency to bounce wildly at high speeds when the airflow underneath it stops and reconnects, leading in frequent and abrupt variations in downforce levels that make driving difficult.
Wolff said the team was striving to understand the issues and enhance the car’s concept, but that if it doesn’t make gains in the future races, it may have to cut its losses.
“I believe all of the good and bad occurs mostly on the floor as we have it right now,” Wolff said. “We have exciting ideas and concepts that we are attempting and researching that will have to make their way onto the vehicle in the next few races.”
“There is no such thing as a bad idea, but we need to figure out whether there is a portion of what we’ve done that doesn’t comply with the standards, and if so, what it is. We don’t have to throw away the nice elements; we may maintain the goodness; nevertheless, if there are basic areas that prevent us from realizing the car’s full potential, we must cut our losses.”
Mercedes vehemently denies any feuds with Hamilton.
Following Friday’s dismal qualifying performance, video of Hamilton conversing with Wolff went viral, with social media users assuming that the encounter was combative and a sign of tensions in the relationship. However, Wolff said that the exchange in the team’s garage was merely a venting of feelings on both sides.
“How it’s being understood is rather amusing,” Wolff added. “Lewis and I both expressed our dissatisfaction with our inability to extract one-lap performance and how aggravating it was. However, the point of view and level of rage were the same.
“No, there isn’t any squabbling or blame going on. There is pressure in the system, but it is the required pressure for things to be done correctly. Nobody on the squad is having a good time right now, and this is a team that has done it before. All we have to do now is dig ourselves out of this hole.”
Lewis Hamilton has written off the title fight as Mercedes hit new low, with a disastrous weekend in Baku. Reference: f1 standings.
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