Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton
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Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton is struggling amid a ‘generational change’ in the sport, according to ex-Mercedes boss Norbert Haug and former driver Ralf Schumacher. The Brit has struggled to get to grips with the machinery at his disposal in 2022, and seen hopes of title shot fade while being outperformed by teammate George Russell.
Since achieving a surprise podium in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton has struggled as he finished P10 in Saudi Arabia and fourth in Melbourne. However, the seven-time world champion faltered and limped home to claim 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out.
The octuple world champions have struggled with severe porpoising as their cars have been bouncing uncontrollably. The porpoising issues have plagued the early rounds of the 2022 season for Mercedes, as neither Hamilton nor Russell have been able to truly compete with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Russell finished fourth at Imola and has been the brightest spark in Mercedes’ dark season. Mercedes’ former engine boss Haug does not believe Hamilton will lose motivation and retire from the sport at the end of the season as he thinks underachievement will fuel the Briton.
“I don’t think Lewis will lose interest,” Haug told Speed Week per GrandPrix.com. “He actually lost the title twice – once in 2007 which was a team mistake, and in 2021 through a wrong decision by the FIA.
“I’m not saying Verstappen doesn’t deserve the title, but Lewis’ driving performance equals world titles and now he is chasing the eighth. Of course, he still wants to achieve that.
“So I’m not worried that Lewis could lose motivation. But we are experiencing a generational change in Formula 1. Not only by Verstappen, also by Russell, Norris, Leclerc – if he doesn’t often make mistakes like he did in Imola.”
Haug puts most of Mercedes’ underperformance down to the fundamentally poor design of the 2022 car, the W13. After much pre-season talk, the design is ultimately flawed and has struggled with porpoising unlike any other team.
“It looks very different from the competitors,” the 69-year-old added. “The cooling is in a completely different place, but the large area under the car, which is supposed to generate downforce, obviously cannot be used. Fourth place for Russell was great, but the reality is probably more with where Hamilton is.”
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Schumacher echoed Haug’s sentiment regarding the ‘generational change’ F1 is experiencing, with the pairing of Hamilton and Russell acting as the prime example. Speaking to Sky Deutschland, he said: “Hamilton is certainly still a top driver, but he has also certainly reached a part of his career where he is no longer willing to change his driving style.
“Russell is more open-minded because he knows what he has and is not trying to change the car. He just has to be at the limit with it and he can do that and I think Lewis has his difficulties with that.”
Russell, who replaced Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s partner for the 2022 season, currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship just 37 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Russell is the only driver on the grid to finish in the top five in each of the four races.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is down in seventh with 21 points fewer than his new team-mate. After his difficult weekend in Imola, Hamilton ruled himself out of championship contention, seemingly ending his hopes of winning a record eighth world title this year.
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Miami Grand Prix on May 8.
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