Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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Ralf Schumacher has warned Mercedes that a shift in power within the team could soon be on the horizon if George Russell continues to outperform Lewis Hamilton over the course of this season. The latter has endured his worst ever start to a Formula One campaign and was recently told by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko that he would have avoided the embarrassment that he currently faces if he had retired from the sport over the winter.
Hamilton could only manage to register a 13th-placed finish at last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after getting stuck in a DRS train behind Pierre Gasly in the lower midfield during the closing stages of the race. Schumacher, who raced in F1 for a period of 10 years between 1997 and 2007, has since insisted that Russell could enjoy a greater balance of power than his Mercedes team-mate if he manages to stay ahead of the 37-year-old over the coming weeks and months after finishing ahead of him once again at the weekend.
“We also have to talk about Lewis Hamilton, of course,” wrote Schumacher in his latest F1 column for Sky Germany. “He has to ask himself why George Russell is so much faster than him.
“A 13th-placed finish is obviously not Hamilton’s ambition. He has to admit that Russell is the better driver at the moment. If this continues in the coming weeks, it will also become tense in the team. There may be changes in the hierarchy.”
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It remains to be seen whether Hamilton will be able to flick the switch over the next couple of races to fight back in the Drivers’ Championship standings and put the pressure on Russell, who is currently three places above him in fourth, for the rest of the season. Schumacher went on to firmly reject Marko’s claim that Hamilton should have retired at the end of last year by insisting that he remains among the most talented drivers in the paddock in spite of his recent misfortune.
“I am absolutely not saying that Lewis has missed the boat to end his career,” added Schumacher. “Lewis is still one of the best drivers in the field. That’s obvious.
“However, the new concepts require the drivers to adapt a little. Hamilton is not used to that. Russell, on the other hand, is a young driver, they obviously get along better with it.”
It seems as though Hamilton will be forced to miss out on a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship title at the end of the season as a result of Mercedes’ distinct lack of pace in the early stages of the campaign. The Silver Arrows remain some way adrift of Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of outright performance and will need to work incredibly hard to stand any chance of clawing back the deficit in the near future.
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