2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg reckons Sir Lewis Hamilton’s deficit to George Russell will be riling the 37-year-old up, but believes his former team-mate can pull it together.
Mercedes have made a dire start to the 2022 season, and have suffered with “porpoising” and handling problems as they attempt to discern the best path towards recovering their title-winning performance.
The painfully inconsistent form has been onerous on Hamilton and team-mate George Russell physically as their necks and backs battle the oscillating movement, but the 24-year-old seems to have adapted better, and is 21 points ahead of his compatriot in the Drivers’ Championship having out-raced him three times.
The seven-time champion came home P13 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix two weeks ago while Russell finished up in fourth, and team principal Toto Wolff put the disparity down to the car’s capacity to run well in clear air compared to traffic having watched Hamilton sit behind Pierre Gasly for over 40 laps.
What did not help the turbulence the Briton was stuck in was the fact that he had to lift off and close DRS to mitigate the bouncing, compounding what had already been a miserable weekend.
Rosberg, having spent years racing with Hamilton from their karting days right up to Formula 1, believes there will be “tension” at the Silver Arrows as a legacy of the car’s current inability to win races.
“It’s definitely a very tough situation for Lewis. He’s won a race in every season of his career and it looks like maybe this will be the year when he can’t win anymore,” he said.
“You can see how the tension is rising and that’s natural.”
However, the 36-year-old believes that his friend turned bitter rival during their time together at Mercedes believes that the 103-time race winner will be able to pull himself together emotional and continue to work cohesively with Russell to alleviate the pressure on his team.
“Nevertheless, with the experience he has I think he will eventually manage to keep those under control,” he added.
The fact that the former McLaren driver is being beaten by newcomer Russell, to Rosberg’s mind, will be making him “very angry.”
“Let’s not forget also Lewis hates ending up behind his team-mate,” explained the German.
“Even if you’re 11th or 13th he really passionately hates coming in behind his team-mate. It makes him very angry. That also happened at Imola in qualifying and the sprint race.”
Team boss Toto Wolff has recently disregarded claims that there is tension between his driver pairing, affirming that their positive relationship has been one of the “few highlights” of an otherwise dejecting season so far.