Hamilton’s struggles exposed: The end of the Mercedes era

According to Robert Doornbos, a former Red Bull racer, Lewis Hamilton has reached his limit with Mercedes, expressing he’s “done” with the team amidst ongoing struggles. Over the past two years, under the new ground-effect regulations, Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, has been consistently outperformed by his teammate George Russell, trailing him 0-3 in qualifications so far in the 2024 season.

When asked to comment in Melbourne, Russell remained tight-lipped, saying, “I can’t really comment on that.” Despite not being fully in sync with the newly introduced silver car, Russell admitted to finding the vehicle’s handling within manageable limits, unlike Hamilton, who appears to be struggling significantly.

Hamilton openly shared his feelings, stating, “I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m disappointed, yes,” highlighting his disillusionment with the situation. Following a disappointing qualification session where he didn’t make it to Q3 in Melbourne, he remarked, “I wouldn’t say this is one of the most difficult moments,” and added, “It’s exactly like the last two years,” reflecting on the ongoing challenges.

On the matter of being consistently outpaced by Russell in qualifiers, Hamilton disclosed his frustrations, admitting, “I don’t know if I’m dealing with it that great. I mean, three qualifyings in a row that he’s out-qualified me. It’s all difficult to understand.”

Mercedes had hopes that their new car design would provide a stable foundation for development after moving away from the problematic concept of 2022-2023. The team has already acknowledged the car’s lack of speed, especially in fast corners.

But Toto Wolff, the team boss, expressed his escalating concern in Melbourne, admitting, “We are too slow everywhere here.” He emphasized the team’s dedication to improvement despite the challenges, stating, “It’s annoying how long I’ve been talking about it but we just need to keep working. It’s not because we’re not trying hard enough, but we are where we are.” Wolff also acknowledged the challenge of catching up to Red Bull, stating, “It’s an illusion that we can get closer to Red Bull anytime soon,” but he remained hopeful, saying, “But I also have to keep believing that there’s more in this car.”

Mercedes, which dominated every title from 2014 to 2020, with Hamilton winning the championship in every season but one, is now facing critical questions about its direction. An unnamed Mercedes engineer defended the team’s processes to Auto Motor und Sport, saying, “The processes are the same as in previous years. They can’t be that wrong, unless the others are suddenly doing everything differently.”

The gap between Mercedes and Red Bull has become increasingly apparent, with former F1 driver Timo Glock pointing out to Sky Deutschland, “At Red Bull, they know exactly which parameters they need to change in order to be in the car’s sweet spot. That’s the big advantage.”

Hamilton’s decision to switch to Ferrari in 2025 could signify a loss of motivation to address the current challenges at Mercedes. Doornbos reflected on the situation, telling Ziggo Sport, “They’ve been messing around with that car for two years. I can understand if Lewis is done with it.”

GMM

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