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Lewis Hamilton expresses disappointment over his performance at the start of the season, calling it his worst start ever, following his retirement in Australia.
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Lewis Hamilton expresses disappointment over his performance at the start of the season, calling it his worst start ever, following his retirement in Australia.

Lewis Hamilton expressed that the beginning of this Formula One season has been the most difficult of his career so far, taking a toll on his motivation. He also cautioned that this struggle could result in him simply going through the motions, after he and his team Mercedes had a disappointing performance at the Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ team principal, Toto Wolff, who has won seven championships, was equally honest when evaluating the situation. He described it as incredibly painful, and admitted that it was fair to question whether it was time for him to step down from his role. He also shared that he did not feel positive or optimistic about his team’s current state.

Hamilton had to end his race prematurely due to an engine malfunction on the 17th lap in Melbourne. The race was ultimately claimed by Carlos Sainz from Ferrari.

The driver from Britain has not been performing well throughout the weekend, as evidenced by his 11th place qualification and lack of improvement during the race until his engine malfunctioned. So far this season, he has only earned eight points from three races, with seventh place in Bahrain and ninth place in Saudi Arabia, a poorer performance compared to his previous disastrous start in 2009 where he was disqualified, placed sixth, and seventh.

For the third year in a row, Mercedes has been unable to produce a car that can keep up with the top competitors. This season, they have been outrun not just by reigning champions Red Bull, but also by Ferrari. Based on their performance in Australia, McLaren may also pose a threat.

Hamilton acknowledged that abandoning his damaged car on the Albert Park racetrack and enduring another unfruitful season was not a source of motivation.

“This is definitely the worst season start I’ve ever experienced, even worse than 2009,” he stated. He explained that the team is feeling the negative effects and it is taking a toll on their morale. Despite putting in a lot of work during the off-season, the team came into the season with high hopes and determination to compete for wins.

“Clearly, that is not the situation and you may think, ‘Well, perhaps second or third place’. However, that is not the case and it continues to have a ripple effect, causing you to go through the motions. It can be difficult.”

George Russell is helped from his crashed Mercedes

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Mercedes had a disappointing weekend as George Russell, their teammate, crashed on the last lap and could only reach seventh place.

At the beginning of the year, they embraced a new design philosophy for their car, hoping it would lead to better results in the upcoming season. However, they are now encountering familiar issues – the car is not performing as expected in the wind tunnel and does not provide a consistent and dependable performance from race to race.

Wolff, who joined Mercedes in 2013 – the same year as Hamilton – and who has been beside the British driver as he secured six titles with the team, conceded it had been a bitter start to 2024.

“I am aware of the improvements that McLaren and Ferrari have made. Therefore, I feel the urge to criticize myself for not keeping up. We need to put in extra effort as this situation is incredibly agonizing.”

To be honest, I don’t feel positive or hopeful about the situation. It’s important to push aside negative thoughts and instead tell ourselves “we can overcome this”, but at the moment it’s incredibly tough.

The individual, age 52, who holds a one-third stake in Mercedes, acknowledged the question of whether he was the appropriate individual to head the team, but he asserted that he would not be resigning.

“I evaluate my actions every day by looking at myself in the mirror, so leaving is a valid consideration, but currently it is not what I believe is necessary,” he stated.

“I am unable to go to Chelsea, Liverpool, or Ferrari as I am not given that option as a co-owner, which is unfortunate. Unlike contractors or employees who can say they are fed up, I am trapped in a never-ending cycle and cannot escape.”

Source: theguardian.com