The 2022 Formula 1 season has been extremely unforgiving to seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton. In stark contrast to the dominance he enjoyed across previous years with Mercedes, the British motorsport talent has been struggling to milk any competitive performance out of his W13. To the point he’s already willing to concede defeat after just four of the 22 scheduled races.
“We’re obviously not fighting for this championship,” Lewis Hamilton told Sky Sports at this past weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (Imola).
“But we’re fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That’s all we can hope for right now.”
“A lot of work is going on in the background and it is what it is, this is what we have. We haven’t got it right this year but everyone is working as hard as they can to correct it.”
The first sign of trouble appeared during the season opener in Bahrain. Just about everyone was surprised Hamilton only qualified in P5. Eventually, he’d demonstrate his hard-earned experience by managing to navigate the chaos and eek a podium finish on race day after both Red Bulls DNF’d.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix proved even more tragic with a shock exit at Q1, starting on race day from P16, and finishing in P10. And what appeared to be something of a return to form at the Australian Grand Prix weeks later – P5 qualification, P4 finish – would be short-lived. Very short-lived.
Suffice it to say, Imola represents a new low for Lewis Hamilton in the context of an already-nightmarish 2022 season. P13 in qualifying. P14 in sprint qualifying. Rounded out by P13 finish on race day.
Many would say the drivers’ championship was officially in the rearview mirror the moment reigning champion and 2021 rival, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, lapped him without breaking a sweat. Others would say the clearest indication was Hamilton’s inability to pass AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly despite multiple attempts. But it surely doesn’t get any worse than losing position to Alex Albon in a Williams.
“We are four races in and today marks the low of the first four races,” says Mercedes F1 Team Principal & CEO Toto Wolff.
“It is obvious that we are not anywhere near the fight at the front.”
“It would be pretty unrealistic to claim we have a slot among the frontrunners fighting for the championship.”
Interestingly enough, not everyone at Mercedes F1 is feeling the impact of its 2022 car – at least not to the extent Lewis Hamilton has. By comparison, George Russell has been experiencing quite the season, consistently outqualifying and outfinishing his teammate, securing Top 5 finishes across all four Grands Prix, and currently retaining a respectable 4th place in the 2022 Driver Standings against Hamilton’s 7th place. I suppose all those years pushing a shitbox to its very limits have paid off.
Sir Lewis Hamilton is currently sitting on 28 points (58 points away from championship leader, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc).