SportF1Analysis: Hamilton, the only one in F1 who does...

Analysis: Hamilton, the only one in F1 who does not fail in 2022

Last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a before and after for Lewis Hamilton’s career, despite even being the most successful driver in the history of the highest category of motorsport. Months of silence after not winning his eighth crown, doubts about his continuity dominated the front pages of the specialized media, although shortly before the start of the new course he came out to silence all the rumours.

The Briton, with a “I was gone, now I’m back” on his Instagram account, returned to public activity with the intention of breaking the tie with Michael Schumacher in terms of number of world titles.

However, fate had something in store for him that he did not expect, a W13 far from the performance expected from the preseason itself. Some thought that it was a simple ‘theater’ of the star team, but the classification of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the one that opened the 2022 calendar, showed that this was not the case, with its two drivers a good distance from the leaders, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Seven tenths down from fifth place, Hamilton tried to recover to continue his run of good performances that dragged on at the end of last year, but had it not been for the reliability retirements of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, he would never have achieved the He took the podium finish at Sakhir, which was a record as he was the only driver to finish in the top three in a race in 16 consecutive seasons.

The Englishman seemed to be the spearhead of the German team, something logical as he was the seven-time champion against a George Russell who made his debut as a starter at Brackley, but only one grand prix later, the tables turned in the Mercedes garage.

The bad feelings of the German car became a reality, even more evident, in qualifying in Saudi Arabia, where Hamilton fell in Q1 for the first time without being due to an accident since the 2009 British Grand Prix. He was just short of making the cut, so he had to start from the back of the grid, which shouldn’t have been a big setback if the car had pace, as it didn’t show.

In the race in Jeddah, while his teammate maximized his performance by finishing fifth, the seven-time champion could barely finish tenth, 40 seconds behind Russell and ironically wondering if that position was worth points.

That was the first occasion in which the performance was doubted, not only of the W13, but of Hamilton, who gave the sensation of staying far from his peak of form, although in Australia, it was the circumstances that deprived him of a better position, as the safety cars benefited Russell at the time of the stops.

In this way, the most experienced of the couple had to settle for fourth place , while the young man was able to open the champagne for the first time with the silver arrows.

Three races had passed and negative criticism around Hamilton was growing, which rose to exponential levels after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. At Imola, the Mercedes rider was facing the sprint of the year for the first weekend, and as happened at Melboune, he had a disastrous performance in qualifying, and despite trying to make up for it in the sprint race, he could only finish 14th .

In the main test, he was caught up in a train of cars with DRS and was unable to overtake a supposedly slower AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, and ended up out of the points and lapped by the winner and rival who took the title last year, Max Verstappen.

This could have remained a simple anecdote if it weren’t for what Russell did, who came back to fourth place, opening a gap of more than 20 points with respect to Hamilton (49-28).

The seven-time world champion needed to turn the dynamic around, and Miami seemed like the ideal scenario, and things seemed to change in qualifying, where he overtook his teammate again, although in the next day’s race he was back behind him.

Five weekends had passed, enough to make a general average of the performances of both, and clearly Hamilton was hurt, although the Spanish Grand Prix was the trigger for the change in the mentality of Stevenage.

Despite having a clash at the start with Kevin Magnussen, the Briton showed that the updated Mercedes W13 had the pace to win the race, although he could only manage fifth, while Russell scored another podium finish .

Monaco was an oasis in the desert in a negative way, as the bumpy track proved to be a headache for the Silver Arrows, who went from possible contenders to beating to fifth and eighth, far from the fastest. The issue of porpoising was recurrent in the German box, and the FIA heeded the complaints after the appointment in Baku, where his rebound was extremely strong, even doubting Hamilton’s participation in Canada after being fourth in Azerbaijan.

The federation acted, and although it was reported that the measurement would not come into force until the Belgian Grand Prix, many accused Mercedes of having influenced the decisions. Be that as it may, in Montreal, Lewis Hamilton took the podium to start a streak of three consecutive weekends in the top three.

The Englishman was at the pace of the best at Silverstone and although in Austria he benefited from the abandonment due to the fire of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, there were two more podiums for his record, although the most impressive data is another, and it is the one that reaffirms that Hamilton never left.

The one from Mercedes, after reaching the halfway point of the season, has finished in all the races, and only in Imola he was left without scoring points. It is true that he is far from the rest, since he is sixth with 109 points and Russell has 128 points, but the seven-time champion is the only one on the grid who has seen the checkered flag in each grand prix.

This has largely helped to reaffirm Mercedes as the third team with 237 points , and although it is evident that his form has been worse than that of his teammate, it is shown that he has gained experience to know how to finish, which could give a possible victory when the rest fail.

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