Why is Hamilton Struggling this year?
Lewis Hamilton is currently 37 points behind his teammate, George Russell, in the F1 World Championship and has consistently been the outperformed by his teammate, the only exception being the season opener.
Since then, Hamilton’s been really struggling to find his “spark” with the car to be the best version of himself. Why? Well, who knows? Is it decodable, maybe? So, let us try to decode what has caused his underperformance this year.
Lewis Hamilton has been the 7-time world champion in Formula One, clinching his last title back in 2020. Then came 2021, when Hamilton was really challenged on the track by none other than Max Verstappen. Max pushed Lewis to the very limit last season, and in the end, Max clinched the title in the very last lap of the very last race of the 2021 season. We all know the controversy behind that. So, let’s not get there. But that decision made by the then FIA Director Michael Masi had a psychological impact on Hamilton for sure. He must’ve felt devastated at the end. I’m pretty sure he carried it forward into the winter break.
Fast forward to the current season, when the pre-season testing started, Mercedes was not looking strong there. They brought with them aggressive aerodynamic packages during the final three days of testing. Even so, they could figure out the so-called no-sidepod design and struggled with car handling leaving them behind their rivals – RedBull. Still, Mercedes have always proved itself. Nobody wrote them off so fast.
Let’s see a few instances during this season where Hamilton has been lagging behind and the reasons for the same.
When the season started in Bahrain, Hamilton looked strong. He out-qualified his teammate in qualifying and went on to get a podium finish as well. Hamilton had the better car of the two Mercedes that weekend. But after that, Hamilton has been struggling to give out his best performance. At Saudi, Hamilton was knocked out in Q1 of qualifying but recovered during the race and finished 10th. This can be attributed to the setup of his car. He was looking solid during the free practice sessions, but during qualifying, the setup on his car had changed and resulted in a disastrous qualifying for Hamilton. Also, the timing of VSC led to a pit-stop confusion for Hamilton, who easily could’ve finished 6th.
The same thing happened in Australia and Miami. Hamilton was looking, hanging on. Then came the safety car at Australia, where George Russell got a ‘free’ pit stop and inherited the third place from Max Verstappen (who didn’t finish), and Hamilton was left behind. Again, the ‘luck’ factor was not in Hamilton’s favour here. At Miami, VSC gave Russell the lead, but Hamilton was hanging on to 6th place throughout. He finished 6th.
At Barcelona and Monaco, Hamilton had a fair share of problems. Tyre puncture and engine overheating at Barcelona and stuck behind the train of drivers at Monaco followed by the undulating track surface at Monaco. Hamilton barely held on and managed to get points for the team.
Finally, at Baku, Hamilton suffered the most due to the bouncing of the car on the highly undulating street circuit. It was not just Hamilton there, but most of them did. He still managed to finish 5th here, with severe back pain at the end of the race.
In conclusion, three major points stand out for Hamilton’s performance this year. First is his initial trauma from last season’s controversy, which he overcame in the very first race. Second, the different setup that Mercedes were running him on to varying circuits with literally no time to test the setups accurately to see which setup suits him the best. And lastly, certain ‘unlucky’ moments in between the races, especially in Australia and Miami, where he couldn’t time the safety car. All-in-all, he definitely hasn’t lost his form this season. He just isn’t able to adjust to the car, or we can rephrase it as – not able to find the right “SPARK”. We still have a long season ahead. So, all fingers crossed for the Hamilton fans!! Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates!