Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has rubbished any suggestions that Lewis Hamilton can win the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. The Silver Arrows ace has fallen well short in the first two races of the season following a winter of F1 regulation changes and car upgrades.
Hamilton became the dominant force in F1 after winning the title for the first time as a Mercedes driver in 2014. He went on to lift the championship trophy six times between 2014 and 2020 to take his career title tally to seven, but missed out on a record eighth season victory last year as Max Verstappen proved triumphant.
Mercedes have failed to redesign their 2022 car in a way which keeps them competitive – and their struggles have been clear to see in the early stages of the new season. At the opener in Bahrain, Hamilton finished third – but only after Red Bull duo Verstappen and Sergio Perez were forced to retire due to power failure. And in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton suffered the ignominy of finishing 10th.
Mercedes have been trying to solve their problems at their Brackley and Brixworth bases in recent days as there wasn’t a race last weekend. But Wolff admits any progression the team have made won’t be enough to help Hamilton win in Melbourne.
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“There are various challenges ahead of us but that’s something we relish and is when a team really shows its true spirit. Lewis and George [Russell] are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward.”
But, despite his team’s woes, Wolff insists he’s looking forward to the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019. “Now we head back to Melbourne for the first time since 2020 and will be racing in Australia for the first time in three years – that’s too long for a city and country that are so passionate about F1,” Wolff added.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the fans and the new track layout which promises more overtaking opportunities and faster lap times.”