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Formula 1: Difficult last year for Mercedes: Will Hamilton be disadvantaged?

Formula 1: Difficult last year for Mercedes: Will Hamilton be disadvantaged?

Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won a Formula 1 race for two and a half years. The record world champion’s frustration was recently released in Monaco. Now he’s heading to a special place.

Almost only the memory of better times can really brighten Lewis Hamilton’s mood at the moment. “It was a real dream come true,” wrote the Formula 1 record world champion on Instagram this week, alongside three photos from 2007.

These show him celebrating after his first race win in Montreal. The Brit was only 22 years old when he arrived, and he finished at the top in his sixth Grand Prix in the McLaren. Now he’s heading back to Canada, to a place that is special to Hamilton. But in his last season for Mercedes, the omens for the former dominator could hardly be worse.

“I assume that I will be behind George Russell for the rest of the year,” said the 39-year-old Briton after qualifying in Monaco. These are words that contain frustration – and have great potential for conflict. The veteran obviously feels disadvantaged at the Silver Arrows. After twelve years, he will move to rival Ferrari in 2025. Is Mercedes already denying its superstar the best possible car and instead preferring teammate Russell? Team boss Toto Wolff vehemently denies this, of course, but the situation at the former perennial world champion is explosive.

Hamilton with a huge gap to the top

“As a team, our sole aim is to provide our two drivers with two great cars, the best possible vehicles, the best strategy and the best support,” said Wolff. The 52-year-old Austrian, however, showed understanding for Hamilton’s statements. The drivers are sometimes a bit skeptical, “but I think as a team we have proven that even in the toughest duel between our drivers, we do everything we can to ensure that everything is balanced, transparent and fair.”

Hamilton is not only behind fellow countryman Russell, but is also far from the top. Once again, his company car is not working well enough to keep up with Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has won the world championship three times in a row in the Red Bull and is still far ahead after eight of 24 World Championship races. Before the Grand Prix in Canada on Sunday (8 p.m./Sky), Hamilton is only eighth and is already 127 points behind Verstappen.

Will there be a turnaround in Canada? The track on the Île Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence River suits Hamilton. He has already won on the track seven times, more than only Michael Schumacher. “We have to keep working hard and diligently to fight our way into the top group,” said Wolff. His drivers will get an improved car, including a new front wing. Will that be enough to catch up with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren? “The field has moved closer together and we have no illusions that others will continue to improve,” said Wolff.

The boss of the Silver Arrows is currently being challenged in many areas. On the one hand, he has to keep the frustrated Hamilton happy, as his experience with 16 races still to go can provide important impetus to improve the car. At the same time, however, it is also important to push ahead with developments for next year. Hamilton can hardly play a major role in this, as he will then be driving for the competition.

Who will be driving a Mercedes from 2025?

And the vacant cockpit still needs to be filled. The German car manufacturer would love to sign Verstappen. Since he is contractually bound to Red Bull until the end of 2028, this seems unrealistic despite ongoing speculation about a possible exit clause. Verstappen wants to sit in the best car – and Mercedes cannot currently offer that. The favorite for the seat next to Russell is said to be the Italian super talent Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The 17-year-old is still driving in the junior Formula 2 series.

Hamilton, meanwhile, wants to hunt for his eighth world championship title in Ferrari. Even though he will be 40 years old in January, his ambition to be the first driver to reach this mark and to surpass Schumacher (seven titles) remains undiminished. However, Hamilton took the last of his 103 victories at the end of 2021 in Saudi Arabia, after which he had to leave the lead to Verstappen due to his weak car.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he has remained the face of Formula 1 to this day. Hamilton is the global superstar of the world’s most important racing series. As a fighter against racism and for equal rights and an advocate of a vegan lifestyle, he also stands up for important issues off the racetrack. But his sporting goals remain unchanged. “I always want to win,” Hamilton says again and again.

Source: Stern

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