Lewis Hamilton is struggling in comparison to George Russell at Mercedes because he is not used to driving slower cars, according to ex-Formula One driver Marc Surer. Hamilton will have been hoping to compete for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship title over the course of this season but looks set to be denied as a result of Mercedes’ lack of pace since the start of the new campaign.
The Silver Arrows have been unable to match the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of outright performance this year and have struggled with the ‘porpoising’ issue that results in cars bouncing up and down on long straights over the last few months. Surer has since insisted that Russell, who currently sits second in the Drivers’ Championship standings ahead of fifth-placed Hamilton, has fared better than his Mercedes team-mate due to the latter having ‘only driven perfect cars’ over the course of his F1 career.
“He’s spoiled,” Surer told Formel1.de when quizzed on Hamilton’s recent form. “[Russell has previously been forced to] beat the Williams around the track, which was not perfect at all, and has sometimes done miracles with it. Russell is used to driving fast with a bad car, Lewis is no longer used to that.”
Hamilton managed to secure an unlikely podium finish at the season-opening race in Bahrain but was forced to miss out in Saudi Arabia and Australia in spite of his best efforts. Surer went on to insist that although Hamilton has failed to live up to his own pre-season expectations, he is still performing well in the grand scheme of things given the lack of pace at his disposal.
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“I actually thought he would have a harder time against Russell, especially in qualifying,” added Surer. “But there is not much missing, there is hardly any difference between the two.
“And in the race, Hamilton is the benchmark who always whines on the radio, but on the other hand always gives everything. That’s why I’m not worried about Lewis.”
It remains to be seen whether Hamilton will be able to join the likes of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz near the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings if Mercedes can solve their ongoing performance issues over the coming weeks and months. Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff has already insisted that plenty of work is going into improving their pace at their Brackley headquarters as they attempt to unlock the true potential of this year’s W13 challenger.
“There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend,” said Wolff ahead of the Australian Grand Prix earlier this month. “But we’re pushing to steadily bring gains over the upcoming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack.
“Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have. Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward.
“So, there are various challenges ahead of us. But that’s something we relish, and is when a team really shows its true spirit.”
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