‘Not a joyful experience’: Toto Wolff opens up on Lewis Hamilton’s struggles

George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton and fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Drivers' Standings.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has conceded that the first few races of the season were hard on Sir Lewis Hamilton, but the Briton has been exemplary in his efforts to pull back the team’s form.

Hamilton and Mercedes were already reeling after the end of the 2021 season when Hamilton was cruelly denied his eighth world title, with a controversial decision from now former race director Michael Masi opening the door for Max Verstappen to claim his maiden crown.

Following two months away from the public eye to weigh everything up, the 37-year-old returned in February, and confirmed that he was ready to attack the new season with the team.

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Sadly, the turn of the new technical regulations has not been kind to the Silver Arrows, who are yet to win a race this season.

Their ambitious concept of running skinny – almost non-existent sidepods – is something they are adamant they can make work, but they have had to go through some trials and tribulations.

The “porpoising” and bouncing phenomenon greatly affected their performance early on the year and, when they thought they had banished the aerodynamic turbulence, they encountered bottoming.

Not only did this affect them on the straights, but it was extremely uncomfortable and, at times, painful for Hamilton and team-mate George Russell.

What likely did not help the seven-time champion’s cause was the fact that he was constantly having to run experimental set-ups to try and get to the bottom of the issues the team were facing.

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Now though, he has been running with a more orthodox design, and the two Britons have taken their tally up to 11 podiums for the season.

The upturn in form has been down to the persistence of the whole team, including Hamilton who, despite some wretched luck at the start of the year, has remained optimistic.

“That’s certainly not a joyful experience, but after the first few races, he was very special,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.

“He got settled in a situation that was all about how can we move this car back to the front.

“And even when I was not at my best, he was the most positive person in the room, building everyone up even if driving this car is a handful.”

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The Austrian also detailed that it has been difficult for everyone at Brackley and Brixworth to pick themselves up from the disappointment of the early season and work towards the excellent form they are enjoying now.

“In December, we raced for a world championship, and four months later, we have a car that is not championship material,” added Wolff.

“So everyone – drivers, engineers, management – need to just find the ground and say, OK, this is the reality now, what are we doing about it?

“You can’t just flip the switch and say, OK, no problem, we’re going to work ourselves out of it.”

Mercedes are now just 30 points behind Ferrari in the race for second in the Constructors’ Standings, with Red Bull a further 97 out in front.