Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel believes that the environment at Mercedes is not a pleasant one right now, and suggests the Sir Lewis Hamilton needs to be more focused.
The changes to the technical regulations saw a re-introduction of ground effect aerodynamics to the cars this year, and the altered downforce concept caught Mercedes out.
Since the start of the season, they have been struggling with the “porpoising” phenomenon amid a variety of other issues.
There has been an element of confusion among the German outfit surrounding the sudden spikes in performance, which has been indicative that the pace is there, but they are struggling to find it.
Theories as to their struggles include the potentially ill-advised move to skinny sidepods, and the fact that the W13 is at least 10kg over the 798kg weight limit, but most of the teams are currently exceeding the maximum weight expectations.
Their performance improved in Miami as George Russell led Hamilton across the line to finish fifth and sixth respectively, but they were still a considerable margin behind Red Bull and Ferrari s they seek to gain a proper understanding of where their issues are coming from and, as a derivation of that, how to fix them.
This is clearly a lot more difficult that it might sound, because team principal Toto Wolff explained that the feedback he is getting from his drivers is not matching up with the data they are getting from the car, meaning that they have a very difficult conundrum to solve.
Coronel opines that the mood in the Mercedes camp is not a healthy one at present which, naturally, is not helping them improve their fortunes.
“Mercedes and Hamilton are not on a good vibe,” he told Motorsport.com.
“As a driver, in a warm environment you express yourself well and then you can be creative and keep going.”
Russell has out-raced Hamilton in all of the last four grand prix, and the Dutchman believes that Hamilton is “looking for excuses” as to his current points deficit to his compatriot.
“Hamilton and Mercedes are definitely not in that at the moment. I see Hamilton making a lot of excuses, but it’s also very difficult because he keeps getting punched in the nose from his team-mate Russell,” he added.
“Then you go to the wrong momentum and you see that happening with Hamilton now. He’s looking for excuses.”
Hamilton was left miffed as engineer Peter Bonnington asked him if he wanted to pit under a late Safety Car, and he said after the race that it is his team’s job to observe the terrain and decipher whether they have an opportunity to bring him in.
“In that scenario, I have no clue where everyone is and so when the team say it’s your choice, I’m like ‘I don’t have the information to make the decision so that’s what your job is! Like make the decision for me, you’ve got all the details, I don’t,’” he told Sky Sports.
The Briton only had three sets of used Softs to pit onto having bolted on Hards for the second stint, so he was left out on track before Russell, who had taken advantage of the Safety Car to remove the Hards he started the race on and put on a fresh set of Mediums, passed him for fifth.
The indecisiveness, in the eyes of Coronel, is not something we would have seen during Michael Schumacher’s time with Ferrari.
“We used to see that with Schumacher, who really thought along with the team,” he explained.
“Now Hamilton puts the ball to the team, but as a driver you also have to think.”
As the jewellery debate rages on between the seven-time champion and the FIA, the 2019 TCR Spa 500 winner affirms that Hamilton needs to put his focus back into the racing.
“Hamilton is too preoccupied with his piercings, gems and other nonsense than real racing,” he added.
Hamilton is currently sixth in the Drivers’ Standings after the first five rounds of the season, 23 points adrift of fourth-placed Russell.