After an Imola nightmare on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton quashed any notion that he might still fight for the Formula One drivers’ title.
The seven-time champion finished 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after being lapped by race winner Max Verstappen, dropping him to seventh in the 2022 standings after four races.
Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate, questioned team principal Toto Wolff’s contention that the car, rather than the driver, was the major factor in the British star’s struggles.
Given Hamilton’s teammate George Russell’s fourth-place finish, Rosberg believes Wolff picked his remarks deliberately in an attempt to rouse his lead driver.
Hamilton told Sky Sports that it had been “a weekend to forget, for sure.”
Hamilton responded to a question regarding his title chances and the potential of fighting his way back into contention by saying: “I’m definitely out of the championship. There is no doubt about that. But I’m going to keep working as hard as I can to try to put it back together.”
Rosberg raced with Mercedes from 2010 to 2016, winning the championship in his final year with the team before retiring.
As he spoke to Hamilton over team radio at the end of Sunday’s race in Italy, Wolff condemned the Mercedes as “undrivable,” stating it was not fit for a world champion.
However, Rosberg, speaking to Sky Sports, believes that the Mercedes team chief’s cunning politics were to blame.
“Toto was once again playing a very smart mental game on his behalf, taking the blame and genuinely attempting to support Lewis mentally. Lifting him up and telling him that it wasn’t Lewis’ fault and that it was all our fault, “According to Rosberg.
“It’s extremely smart because it’s not entirely true, and let’s not forget that Russell is in P4 with the same vehicle, so Lewis clearly played a role in that awful outcome this weekend.”
Rosberg believes there was “more in that car” than Hamilton has discovered.
“It’s critical that Lewis maintains that motivation throughout the season; it’s crucial for the team, and it’s pretty easy for Lewis to lose it in these kinds of situations,” he continued.
Red Bull deserved their first one-two finish since 2016, according to Verstappen.
Red Bull “we’re on it” at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, according to Max Verstappen, and absolutely deserved their one-two finish.
Verstappen, the reigning Formula One champion, started on pole after winning the sprint race on Saturday, and he grabbed maximum points in Imola by winning and setting the fastest lap.
He reduced Charles Leclerc’s championship lead from 45 to 27 points. When attempting to capture the bonus point from Verstappen, the Ferrari driver spun out and finished sixth.
This allowed Lando Norris to finish third, with Sergio Perez completing Red Bull’s first one-two result since Malaysia in 2016.
“It’s always difficult to achieve something like that, but we were on it yesterday and the day before, and it was looking like a strong weekend,” Verstappen remarked.
“Today, you never know how competitive you’re going to be with the weather, but I think we did pretty well, and this one-two is well deserved.
“The start was crucial, but thereafter, assessing the conditions and when to switch to the slick tyres, since in the lead, you have to always influence the pace, and it’s always a little more difficult initially, but everything was well managed.”
Perez defended superbly to keep Leclerc at bay after passing him on the first lap, though he was fortunate that DRS was not engaged until after he took a trip through the grass, allowing the Ferrari to close the deficit.
“It was quite tense! We were fighting since halfway through the race, then it was all under control, but then they started chasing us again with the stop, and it was another fight to warm up the tyres “Perez stated.
“The most important thing now is to avoid making mistakes, because it was quite dangerous out there under these conditions. Getting a one-two in these conditions is a fantastic result for the team, in my opinion. We had such bad luck at the start. It’s been quite challenging for us.
“I am overjoyed that everyone on my staff is happy today.”
Norris stated: “It was an incredible race. A fantastic weekend.
“I’m overjoyed; the squad deserves it. From where we were in race one to now scoring a podium, the team has done an outstanding job. It’s just a lot of hard effort from the crew. A lot of time and effort was expended in the plant and here in Imola.
“It was a challenging set of circumstances, but we were able to capitalize on them as well. But because I enjoy these settings, I always do admirably. All it takes is a combination of hard work and a fun weekend, and it all pays off.”
Hamilton finishes 13th in an ‘undriveable’ Mercedes.
Mercedes team leader Toto Wolff apologized to Lewis Hamilton after he finished 13th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.
Wolff warned seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton that his car was “undrivable” and “unworthy of a world champion.”
Wolff also stated that the squad had an “awful race.” Despite finishing in fourth place and collecting points, George Russell performed much better than teammate Hamilton.
Hamilton finished seventh in the championship with 28 points from the first four races of the season, 21 points behind Russell and 58 points behind leader Charles Leclerc.
On top of that, Hamilton was lapped by Max Verstappen on lap 40 on Sunday, a sign of the times in their battle.
Silver Arrows team principal Wolff informed Hamilton over team radio at the end of the race: “I apologize for the need for you to drive today.
“I understand that this is undrivable and that the result is not what we deserve. So we’ll go from there, but this was a bad race.”
Hamilton responded, saying: “Toto, don’t worry about it. Let us continue to work hard.”
Mercedes will face a significant task this season to match the performance of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars, with the next race in Miami coming up in a fortnight.
“We’ll get through this,” Wolff added.
Wolff later told Sky Sports that Hamilton’s result had been “very awful.”
“He was pressed by the Alpine, the other two cars undercut, and there’s absolutely no passing in a DRS train,” Wolff explained.
“We witnessed what the car can accomplish in open air thanks to George, but we’re not good enough for a world champion, and we’re not worthy of a world champion. We just need to get the automobile fixed.
“I believe we will look into things for Miami. I believe we can make progress in our understanding of the automobile. It’s another day; we just need to learn more and provide growth to the automobile to fix the bouncing.”