Why Mercedes were ‘disappointed’ with Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton hasn't won a race since 2021, while Mercedes team-mate George Russell won a grand prix in 2022.

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has admitted that Lewis Hamilton’s fourth place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend was “disappointing”, given that he started from pole position.

Hamilton shocked the paddock and claimed pole position at the Hungaroring, after going three-thousandths of a second quicker than Max Verstappen.

Claiming pole ended up being the highlight of the seven-time World Champion’s weekend, as he lost three places on the opening lap of the race.

Hamilton’s initial start was good; however, he was forced wide by Verstappen at the opening corner.

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This allowed Oscar Piastri to follow Verstappen through, before Lando Norris got past at the second corner.

The Mercedes driver later dropped to fifth behind Sergio Perez but was able to recover fourth late on after overtaking Piastri.

Hamilton’s pace at the end of the race was actually very strong, whilst he struggled in the opening phase.

“The start, actually, the initial getaway wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but it obviously wasn’t as good as Max’s,” Hamilton said after the race.

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“I had a bit of wheelspin and then obviously Max was on the inside and he ran me wide and I got done by the two McLarens.

“So, definitely not a great start, kind of reminiscent of 2015 when I fell back from first. After that, just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the guys. The balance in the car was pretty awful on that first stint, a lot of understeer and oversteer through corner balance and I just couldn’t keep up with them.

“So then, bit by bit, as we got through the next couple of stints, the car started to become more drivable, and then the last stint obviously was much better. If we had had the pace we had at the end, we would have been a little bit better I think through the day.”

Interestingly, Shovlin revealed after the race that Mercedes “never believed” they’d convert pole into victory, after believing that Verstappen was too strong.

However, a podium was definitely the Silver Arrows’ target, leaving the team disappointed to have left Hungary with P4.

“Starting from P1 and not even making the podium is always going to be disappointing,” Shovlin said.

“We never believed we had the pace to beat Verstappen, but we could have been second had more gone our way. The opening lap wasn’t great for Lewis, dropping to fourth, but as the race went on our pace seemed to get better.

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“At one point it looked like we’d be a distant fourth, but he did a good job closing Perez and Lando Norris down in the final stint. It was frustrating that we couldn’t get on the back of them sooner.

“Our expectations with George were to just make it into the points. For him to come sixth is a very good result. We were nursing engine temperatures, which cost both cars a lot of race time, as the ambient temperature was slightly higher than expected.

“We’ve made small gains to Ferrari and Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship, which is some consolation. Overall though, we leave here thinking we could have done a much better job as a Team.”