Double Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton will be struggling to deal with Mercedes’ lack of pace thus far in 2022.
Mercedes have made a dire start to the 2022 season. Hamilton and team-mate George Russell have been somewhat fortuitous to pick up a podium a piece, and victories earned on merit seem a very long way off.
This is because of their difficulties in adapting to the new technical regulations, which have brought about the issue of “porpoising” as the cars run significantly lower to the ground due to the ground effect aerodynamics.
Hamilton has been out-raced twice by his 24-yer-old team-mate, and found himself eight tenths of a second adrift of him as he was knocked out in the first part of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after changes to the setup made for an “undriveable” car.
His “difficult position” comment in Australia when a Safety Car helped Russell get ahead of him was perhaps symbolic of some of the frustration at the car’s vast decline in pace.
However, only three races have passed in 2022, so histrionics would be ill-advised for Mercedes and Hamilton, but Hakkinen predicts that the seven-time champion is already in for a “really difficult season.”
“It’s a tough spot for Lewis, it’s obvious,” he said in a video with Unibet.
“Russell didn’t come there to be the number two or to lose. He’s there to give his best and [is] working to become World Champion one day. He’s not bowing down to a seven-time World Champion.
“The last race in Australia was a tough spot for Lewis, really tough. The team naturally wants the drivers to finish the race. They got the result – not the result they hope for, but still good points for the team.
“But I’m sure Lewis is still annoyed by the situation. It’s hard to be beaten by George. I’m afraid this will be a really difficult season for Lewis.”
Russell leads the 37-year-old by nine points in the Drivers’ Championship after three rounds having been signed from Williams over the winter.
The Finn reiterated that the pace of the young Briton will only be compounding Hamilton’s frustration at what is already a difficult situation for the eight-time constructors’ champions to find themselves in.
“It’s already difficult for Mercedes, but especially for Lewis,” he added.
“George comes from a team with little to no success – he had some good qualifying results but not in the races. All these achievements with Mercedes are new to him, everything feels super good.
“For Lewis, this is a disaster. And, with George being ahead, it’s even worse.”
The 53-year-old insinuates that Hamilton will likely be expressing his discontent to the team during briefings.
“I wonder how Lewis behaves in the team meetings. I bet he’s sulking – I can imagine it! Lots of complaining and whining,” he affirmed.
As a result, the former McLaren driver indicates that the Briton is beginning to consider calling time on his Mercedes career and moving on to pastures new.
“This starts the natural thought process of drivers, ‘Should I go somewhere else?’,” explained Hakkinen.
“It’s a fact. He’s been at Mercedes for years and won multiple championships.
“Now that things are not going well, he’ll start thinking of switching teams.”
Team boss Toto Wolff revealed that Hamilton contemplated leaving after his title defeat to Nico Rosberg in 2016, but remained after a five-hour discussion in the Austrian’s kitchen.
The 37-year-old has since added four more titles and 50 more wins to his collection.