According to a Formula1News report, Lewis Hamilton has claimed that his early-season struggles were brought on by his position as the team’s “guinea pig.”
Mercedes had to make adjustments earlier in the 2022 season due to a serious porpoising issue and a general lack of pace that put the team in danger of being involved in a midfield duel.
With a string of early podium finishes and frequent top-six finishes, George Russell appeared to be able to get a respectable level of performance out of the W13. In contrast, Lewis Hamilton was having trouble keeping up with Russell in his W13, and at Imola, the Englishman was lapped by Max Verstappen.
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Hamilton has offered an explanation for his early-season performance, claiming that because of his superior expertise, he served as the guinea pig for the team, participating in radical setup tests while they searched for their lost performance.
The Englishman’s statements almost seem to refute Russell’s outstanding start to the season. Even though Russell has revealed that his teammate actually made more radical adjustments to his set-up earlier in the season, he maintains that this was not the sole factor why he performed better than the seasoned driver.
Russell said: “I feel that the biggest thing to take away from this is I was in a happier place with the car from the beginning,”
“The big set-up changes were more to try and make the car go faster. We bought a number of test items to every single track, they were the main development parts, and they would always be alternated.
“One week was Lewis and one week was me, they would always alternate, week in, week out. For sure, at the start of the year, Lewis made more drastic set-up changes within the confines of the car, bit that was purely because I was in a happier place and he was still trying to find a set-up that suited him.”
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Russell’s response to Hamilton’s comments might serve as a caution to Mercedes, who are accustomed to their drivers clashing when they have the opportunity to compete against one another.
A good example was when Lewis Hamilton notoriously destroyed a longtime friendship with Nico Rosberg when the German driver challenged him for the title and eventually defeated him.
While acknowledging the strong characteristics of both of his drivers, Toto Wolff insists that a champion must possess an intense attitude and that Mercedes has already made plans for the duo’s future together.
Hamilton will be anxious to win his record-breaking eighth title before retiring, but it seems Russell will not be satisfied with being a backup driver while his teammate competes for titles.