Toto Wolff claims he needs to ‘protect’ Lewis Hamilton

Sir Lewis Hamilton is currently P6 in the Drivers' Championship, with Mercedes having a difficult season thus far.

With the second half of the season now upon us, the Mercedes F1 Team looks set to continue their charge towards closing down Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, after a strong run of form towards the end of the first half of the season.

It was the most challenging first half of the season for Mercedes, potentially since their return to Formula 1 in 2010, after the Silver Arrows suffered horrific porpoising.

It’s been a period of readjustment for Mercedes, as they’ve had to recalculate their position and goals from a title contender, to a top five challenger.

No one, though, has had it tougher than Sir Lewis Hamilton, with the Brit having faced a barrage of criticism and calls to retire.

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Hamilton has found his form as of late, with the seven-time World Champion having claimed five consecutive podium finishes.

The season couldn’t have started any worse for the Brit, who finished P10 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and P13 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton was even embarrassingly lapped by 2021 title rival Max Verstappen at Imola, to add to his woes.

The Brit was downbeat and despondent whilst the team languished; however, he’s since found his mojo and admitted he would like to race beyond 2023, when his contract expires.

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The 37-year-old has reacted well to any doubters who spoke out publicly, with team principal Toto Wolff having told Square Mile that the Brit needed “protecting”.

“I need to protect him, because people have started to hit out at him, which is not right,” Wolff said.

“It’s complete nonsense: he’s the greatest driver of all-time.

“The car is just subpar.”

Wolff’s way of protecting Hamilton was by apologising to the Brit after every poor race, with the team boss saying how sorry he was about the badly performing car over Hamilton’s radio.

“So, it [the apology] is to make sure that everybody comprehends that the car is not performing, and not that the driver is at fault,” he added.

New Mercedes driver George Russell has fared much better than Hamilton this season so far, with the former Williams Racing driver currently P4 in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst his team-mate is P6.

Wolff believes Russell has managed to deal with the struggling W13 better than Hamilton due to his experience in challenging cars, something he was praised for whilst driving for Williams.

“George has sometimes struggled a bit less because he’s maybe used to driving difficult cars at the back of the grid, but Lewis was unlucky on many occasions,” continued the Mercedes boss.

“He could have scored another two podiums and then the pendulum would have swung.”

Wolff is determined for the Silver Arrows to be able to offer Hamilton a title-winning car once again, with the Brit not in contention for an eighth World Championship this year.

READ: Toto Wolff sends warning to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ahead of Belgian GP

The Austrian briefly mentioned the “manipulated” end of 2021, where he discussed how Hamilton should be an eight-time World Champion, and that it’s the team’s goal to get the British driver what he deserves.

“I think Hamilton should have had an eighth world title last year, everybody knows that, but now we need to make a car that puts him in the position of going for that eighth title and that is fundamentally my responsibility,” Wolff said.

“But that’s good. I’m in control of that situation.”