“Sold under the value as a team”

( – “It wasn’t a great qualifying session,” says Lewis Hamilton, and that’s probably an understatement. Because for Mercedes there was a historic defeat before the 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola (follow all units here in the Formula 1 live ticker!): For the first time since 2012, the Silver Arrows have not brought a car into the top 10 qualifiers, for the sixth since the return as a factory team for the 2010 season.

Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes W13 at Imola: The gap is too big


And was 11th place for George Russell and 13th for Lewis Hamilton the reason for the serious conversation Hamilton seemed to have with team boss Toto Wolff in the Mercedes pits? ‘Sky’ expert Ralf Schumacher believes he has found a blessing for the crooked house and says, “Obviously, there was no consensus. I’m not a lip reader, but it didn’t look that good.”

He almost got the impression that Wolff “wasn’t so happy” with the drivers, Schumacher continued. “It’s a bit of an ordeal for a team like this. What are you doing, where are you going? I think you’ve promised a lot more this weekend.”

Hamilton only with luck in Q2

But the fact is: Mercedes is clearly too slow at Imola. And Hamilton almost made it to the end in Q1, securing the passage to the second segment by just 0.004 seconds. In Q2 Russell was almost two seconds behind, Hamilton even 2.3 seconds behind.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” says Hamilton, agreeing with Schumacher’s further statements: “You come here optimistically and you know everyone is working hard, and therefore nothing fits perfectly.”

Mercedes “sold itself as a team under the factory” in Imola on Friday, Hamilton says. Motivation: “There are things we could have done but we haven’t done.” However, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion doesn’t go into detail.

Mercedes: a “rescue mission” every weekend

Not even what he discussed with Wolff in the Mercedes garage. “These were internal things that I would rather not share,” says Hamilton. “But yes, we keep working. It is what it is. Every weekend is a rescue mission.”

Now it may just be a matter of surviving the weekend somehow, getting up for Saturday’s sprint, Hamilton says. “It will be a difficult race, but we hope the weather will be better on Saturday. And who knows? Maybe we can make progress.”

Hamilton loses again to Russell

But one of Hamilton’s first opponents on the road to the top 10 is his own teammate, who did better in qualifying for a second time on his fourth attempt. In a direct comparison of the Silver Arrows, he is 2: 2 in qualifying, with a 2: 1 lead for Russell in previous races.

This should really annoy Hamilton, Schumacher says on ‘Sky’: “I think Lewis is annoyed to be behind his teammate again, even if he’s right back there. Because that’s how it is: every driver wants him to be there in front.”

How team leader Wolff reacts to poor performance

But Mercedes is behind, and that “obviously hurts”, as team boss Wolff admitted to “Sky” after the first free practice session. At the start in Imola, Russell and Hamilton had occupied positions ten and 18 for Mercedes, always with a net deficit.

“When I see our car driving about five seconds off the clock, it’s not cool. You’d like to strangle yourself,” says Wolff. “But I like the challenge. I like it when things go wrong, when you make a mistake. That’s where you learn the most. Because in the long run we will be good with these new rules.”

Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes W13 behind Sergio Perez in Red Bull and Fernando Alonso in an Alpine

Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes W13 behind Sergio Perez in Red Bull and Fernando Alonso in an Alpine Enlarge

He’s just an optimist, Wolff points out. Therefore, he does not rule out that Mercedes may still play a role in the 2022 world title fight, provided the team manages to “develop the car’s potential,” says Wolff. “Right now, looking at the gaps today, it looks like a totally unrealistic proposition. But we’re still trying to figure it out.”

Rosberg can barely watch

But the current situation continues to raise questions. ‘Sky’ expert Nico Rosberg, for example, is almost stunned by the presentation of the Mercedes at Imola. Time is not to blame for his former team’s performance, says Rosberg. “It was two seconds slower per lap!” He adds: “It’s incredible, nothing is going right.”

Even as a spectator, he is not comfortable with the behavior of the Mercedes W13: “When they have driven down the straight, it gets a headache just from watching the car jump”.

“And at the moment they don’t have a solution, because the problem is: there aren’t any big ones in the wind tunnel [Bodenwellen]. Everything is constant and stable there and that is why it is difficult to find and work out solutions in the wind tunnel, “says Rosberg. That is why it is difficult to predict” when they will have a solution “.

What makes the Mercedes porpoise so ugly

Foreman Wolff confirms that so-called porpoising, the vehicle jump, has a different dimension in Mercedes than elsewhere in the field. Ferrari, for example, also knows how to bounce, but not in this cheeky form. “With us, the frequency is higher,” Wolff says on ‘Sky’, adding: “The main difference is in braking. When you brake, the car stabilizes. Not with us.”

Photo gallery: Formula 1 2022 Imola: The most important thing on Friday

But Mercedes not only accepts this handicap, but is actively looking for solutions, but so far without any resounding success, says Wolff: “We have reduced the weight, but we do not know if this could also increase porpoising.”

His team is currently learning “really on the fly,” he explains. “We have never done Formula 1 like this before. But we have to blame ourselves for it.”

Russell: It can only get better for Mercedes

For Russell and Hamilton, for example, this is expressed in the fact that they are unable to bring production Pirelli tires up to temperature on the track. Russell sees this as a distinct disadvantage compared to his direct rivals: “We had already noticed this in Australia compared to Alpine and McLaren. They succeeded in the first lap, but we had to make up for the third or fifth lap, always slower in between races and the other one.”

At Imola they ran into this problem again, but Russell takes it calmly: “If there is a weekend where you are not where you want to be, then it is a weekend with Sprint. It is not ideal, but we have the possibility to do Saturday again at the top “.

But that doesn’t mean it will work, Russell continued. Sa: “Not much happens in the sprint. Also, I don’t think we have enough laps for enough tire wear that we could take advantage of because we are better positioned than our current rivals. So let’s see what we can organize. Sunday is still coming. . It can only get better. “

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