While last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix played out quite unpredictably, few expected 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to end up in 13th place. It’s the first time Hamilton has been lapped since the 2013 German Grand Prix, and that was nearly a decade ago.
After a series of disheartening messages from Mercedes’ own top brass, Hamilton himself has joined the chorus, admitting that this season’s trophy is unlikely to end up in his hands. “I’m out of the championship, for sure,” said the Mercedes driver. “There is no question about that. But I’ll still keep working as hard as I can, to try and pull it back together somehow.”
The 2022 Grand Prix at Imola played out quite unexpectedly — with odd bouts of rain, a double-bumble from local favorites Ferrari, and a confident double-up 1st and 2nd place for Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen and Perez — followed by a delighted Lando Norris in 3rd.
When asked by the media if he could have done better by pitting for dry weather tyres, Hamilton put up a disappointed response. “I really don’t know to be honest. I don’t think it would have made much of a difference to be honest. A weekend to forget for sure,” he concluded dejectedly.
Team boss Toto Wolff, has repeatedly voiced his team’s frustration with the infamous ‘porpoising’ problems that smacked Mercedes off course in 2022. “Sorry for what you have had to drive today,” he told Hamilton on the team radio post-race. “I know this is undrivable and not what we deserve to score the result. We move from there, but this was a terrible race.”
“At least George got some points for the team today. My apologies to everyone that I wasn’t able to do the same.” Hamilton is certainly right here about his teammate, despite the car’s serious issues, George Russell is putting up an admirable fight – snatching a solid 4th place finish for both the race and the championship table.
Ahead of Russell, perhaps the big surprise of Sunday was Lando Norris’ spectacular push from P5 to P3 — a finish much-helped by Charles Leclerc’s barrier collision on Lap 53, an incident that the current championship leader described as ‘a big shame’, after losing precious time and half the car’s front wing.
“Amazing race, amazing weekend to be honest,” said Norris. “To beat one Red Bull and a Ferrari is much more than we were expecting. I’m happy. “
“The team deserves it. From where we were in race one to now scoring a podium, they all deserve it, so top job to the team.
Meanwhile, the Red Bull paddock was on fire, slashing Leclerc’s championship lead down to 27 points, Verstappen seems to have redeemed himself for the Melbourne Grand Prix’s DNF with a near-perfect performance, followed by Perez in 2nd, after a heated defensive battle that he won against Leclerc.
“The way we handled the race,” explained the Dutchman, “we didn’t really make any mistakes and I think we made the right calls switching from the inters to the slicks, and from then onwards we just controlled the race. It of course seemed probably easy on the TV, but you have to be focused.”
Meanwhile, the grid prepares for the Miami Grand Prix on May 8th, while Hamilton said he isn’t “particularly looking forward” to the race, it’ll be every driver’s first attempt at the track.
“I’m sure in the week I’ll get to a positive frame of mind,” Hamilton shared. “I will be at the factory tomorrow to see what we can improve.”
(Featured Image Credits: FIA, Formula 1)