Car, team and drivers, the eternal Formula 1 trident that determines the results. In the absence of the first, a single-seater capable of fighting for victories that may come later, in Mercedes you can not put a blow to the performance that Hamilton and Russell sign this season and the garage has extracted all the potential available: nine podiums, five in a row and the two companions of Paul Ricard’s “drawer” alongside Verstappen after fighting and beat second Red Bull, Pérez’s, on the track. They are the only team to have scored points in all the grands prix and the progress is constant: in race pace, they are less than half a second from the lead.
In this context, numbers haunt Sir Lewis. He was celebrating his 300th F1 grand prix and was exposed to another peculiar stat: he has won a race in all his seasons since 2007. Even in 2009, a very complicated year for McLaren which was corrected in the summer, as Hamilton himself recalls: “In January or February, I remember going to meetings and I was told that the aerodynamic load would be about 50% of the previous year. I remember getting in the car for the first time and it was horrible to drive, even though the engine was good. We suffered that year. But a big improvement came at the Nurburgring and I got it, because I was ahead in the championship, and as soon as I got out on the track, I made noise (of exclamation) on the radio they were playing for the factory guys because for the first time I could go full throttle in the car. In Hungary, we won the race”.
“I know exactly what I want in next year’s car”
The seven-time world champion celebrates every factory breakthrough so far: “We are not as close as we would like, but we only finished ten seconds (in France). And we both beat the other Red Bull at Paul Ricard. His straight-line speed is impressive, so it was hard to keep him out of the DRS zone. We didn’t wait a second (Lewis) and third place (Russell)This is the best result of the year”. The leap to the 2023 car isn’t far off in time, but all the learning from the W13 will be a help: “We’re still learning a lot from this car, everything we’re working on at the factory, I know exactly what I want in next year’s car and we’ve already talked about it. In the coming months we will focus on next year’s car.”
The Mercedes are privileged spectators of the fight for the title. “It’s fantastic to see the pace of Ferrari this year, I feel sorry for Charles because he is doing a great job. Like Carlos, it’s not easy to get that rhythm and to maintain it, it’s very difficult, I’m sorry for the team because I know what it means (a mistake like the one in France)but they are a great team and they will continue to work. The maximum benefit (Verstappen) he is huge, it’s quite comfortable but a lot of things can still go wrong.” In any case, English does not give in: “We have not yet taken a step like that of 2009, but who knows. We don’t give up. Bottom of the foot”.