Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton has joked he may call a “sickie” to miss the post-Abu Dhabi test in another dig at his struggling Mercedes. The seven-time champion laughed that he might claim to have back pains to avoid driving the car for one final time.
He said: “I might be calling a sickie, [pain in] my back or something.” Hamilton struggled in the season-finale after sustaining damage on lap one.
The Mercedes star ran wide at the first chicane as battled with Carlos Sainz, bouncing over the sausage kerbs which led to floor issues. However, he was forced out with a mechanical failure with just a handful of laps remaining.
The retirement dropped the Briton outside of the points to condemn him to P6, his worst-ever result championship finish. Hamilton’s run of securing a victory in every season since his debut in 2007 has also come to an end.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton admitted he was glad the season was over after a difficult campaign. He added: “I am very pleased it is over and done with. I gave it everything, but ultimately the last race was like my whole season. It summed up my year.”
Mercedes’ performance improved at the United States Grand Prix after the team fitted the last of their upgrades. The new rear wing and upgraded floor allowed Hamilton to battle Verstappen out front for victory.
The Silver Arrows also looked competitive in Mexico a week later after fitting a new front-wing design. The German manufacturer was the quickest car in Brazil as George Russell secured the team’s first and only win of 2022.
However, the 24-year-old stressed the car still only operates in a “narrow window” which could explain the lack of performance on Sunday.
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Russell said: “This weekend was important for us. We had highs in Brazil and Mexico but it is clear that our car only performs in a very narrow window. This was probably a little bit of a reality check for us.”
Mercedes has yet to confirm whether they will adapt their current 2022 design or go back to the drawing board for next season. Technical director Mike Elliott has previously hinted the team will look at rival designs and see what could be tweaked for next season.
Toto Wolff appeared to suggest the 2022 concept would be binned after the race, claiming the cars would become a relic at the factory. He commented: “First of all, we’re gonna put these cars in reception at Brackley and in Brixworth to remind us every single day how difficult it can be. But thank you everyone, this is a character-building season. Not a blip for a race but a full season.”
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