Former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert believes Sir Lewis Hamilton’s podium at the British Grand Prix will have come as a massive boost to the Mercedes team after their rocky start to 2022.
The Silver Arrows have struggled with the ground aerodynamics under the new technical regulations, feeling the impacts of “porpoising” and bouncing, both from a performance and physical perspective.
Sir Lewis Hamilton have managed six podium finishes between them this season after the seven-time champion managed his third of the year last weekend at the British Grand Prix, but it might have been better than third.
After seeing Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez fall down the order with damage, Hamilton was hunting down Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on fresh tyres, but a late Safety Car brought Perez back into play as he finished second by race winner Sainz.
Ferrari opted not to pit Leclerc under the Safety Car, so the Monegasque slipped back behind Hamilton, who settled for third.
Mercedes’ previous podiums have been almost entirely indebted to mistakes or failures from Ferrari and Red Bull this season, but Hamilton’s race pace on Sunday felt like it was on merit, which will have been extremely encouraging for the German side.
“Definitely so, and it’s a nice upgrade that they brought to Silverstone,” said Herbert on Sky Sports’ Any Driven Monday show.
“I think on pure pace, they’re probably two maybe three tenths still off but then we can see in the race pace, they still have the ability to challenge the teams that have slightly better packages at the present time.
“They’re moving in the right way; Lewis, as you always expect, when there is an opportunity, he can raise his game and get himself in the mix for a possible race win.
“And he wasn’t that far away so great to see that Lewis is there.”
The other Mercedes of George Russell was involved in the red flag crash that saw Zhou Guanyu fly over the barrier and into the fence.
The 24-year-old abandoned his chances of getting back into the race by sportingly running over to check on Zhou, who was thankfully okay.
Herbert has no doubt that Russell will come back from a disappointing home race weekend after qualifying down in eighth, but overall it was a promising showing from the Brackley-based side.
“George, we know will bounce back anyway, but the most important thing is Mercedes are definitely now starting to supply the car that the drivers need,” he added.
“And they’re going to be able to sort of put [in] some good results I’m sure in the coming races, because I think this is a point where they will actually have much more understanding of what direction they need to go in.
“Because I think at the beginning of the season they had no idea where they were going, so finally I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for them.”
Sainz’s win in Towcester took him back above Russell and into fourth in the Drivers’ Standings.
Verstappen came home seventh as team-mate Perez cut his championship lead to 34 points.