Fans on social media have a tendency to kick people when they are down, and this has certainly been the case with Sir Lewis Hamilton this season.
George Russell put in another mightily impressive performance in qualifying in Azerbaijan to start the race fifth, and he has out-qualified seventh-placed Hamilton for the fifth time in eight races.
The seven-time champion has just not been able to locate the sweet spot of the erratic W13 car like the 24-year-old has in the early going of this year, and has struggled all weekend with bouncing and poor handling.
Just the 37-year-old looked in danger of being eliminated in Q2, Russell had aborted his final run, so was on hand to give Hamilton a slipstream.
It worked to perfection as Hamilton used it to make the top 10, but a fan on social media believes that this is the epitome of the 103-time race winner’s tough start to the year.
“Lewis has fallen off to the point that he needs help from Russell to even get into Q2… He has outperformed Lewis EVERY race and Q,” they tweeted.
This does need to be fact-checked slightly, as Russell has certainly not out-performed Hamilton in “every” qualifying and race; the former McLaren driver has come out ahead in three qualifying sessions, and also finished ahead of the former Williams man in Bahrain at the start of the year.
The bumpy, windy Baku Street Circuit has proven an issue for a lot of teams, including Red Bull, this weekend, and the bottoming out on the straight is costing Mercedes a lot of time.
All roads seem to lead to this abrasion with the track surface at the moment, but Hamilton remained optimistic after qualifying that a good race may be in store for the Silver Arrows at one of the most unpredictable venues on the calendar.
“I’m not surprised, I mean it was the same in Monaco so it’s the same,” he candidly told Sky Sports.
“There’s lots to look forward to, it’s a tricky and chaotic race, there’s lots that can happen, we’re in the top 10.
“It was a really difficult qualifying session because we’re constantly pushing, we have a very small window where we can work this car.
“And everything we try doesn’t give us what we want, so we’re making lots of changes, we always come up with the same conclusion, which is most often bouncing, which loses us a lot of performance.
“All the performance is when you get the car low, so hey let’s just take a beating in our backs and our necks and just get the car as low as possible to get this performance.
“I’m a little bit lower, and it’s bouncing a bit more than I think the other car but we’re still there, we’re just very slow on the straights.
“So it might be a struggle tomorrow in the race, but we’re going to give it everything and I hope maybe we have better race pace than others, who knows?”
Mercedes will be searching for their fourth podium of the season on Sunday, but the last time they went eight consecutive races without having both drivers on the podium was when they re-entered the sport in 2010, and that run stretched 78 races until the early part of 2014.