Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has opened up about the various experiments that he has to run with regard to his teammate George Russell and how race results in that light don’t matter as much to him.
The Stevenage-born driver also explained that he would not have agreed to do a number of things had he been in the running for the championship.
As things stand in the F1 drivers’ standings, Hamilton currently sits two places below Russell in sixth spot.
It has undoubtedly led to many critics questioning his abilities with respect to how comfortable Russell has looked in his maiden season for the German outfit.
Hamilton praises Russell for ‘good job’
“George is doing a great job,” Hamilton said. “I don’t have any problems with it. There’s no issues in the background with us.
“George, I would say, and his team, they don’t experiment the same, obviously. But that’s because I’ve been here for a long time, so I’m willing to take these risks.
“George, it’s his first year with the team so he’s come in and he’s just doing his job to the best of his ability.
“Very little movement of set-up. I’m doing all the leg-work, back and forth here and there, different wings, all these different things. And I like that anyway.
“If we come into next year and we have a car that we are much happier with, then we can be more focused on not having to go crazy with set-ups. Then we can have a better battle.
“If he finishes ahead at the end of the season, I don’t really feel anything about it. We’re not in the championship. We are fourth and sixth. Now, if it was first and second, it’s different.”
Mercedes will challenge for 2023 championship: Hamilton
Hamilton believes that Mercedes will be a formidable unit once again in 2023 and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won’t enjoy the sort of easy passage to the title as has been the case this year.
“[The W13 car is] like creeping up behind a horse,” he said.
“You’re trying to get as close as possible. What’s the breaking point before it kicks you in the face? And you know it’s going to hurt when it hits your face.
“That’s one of the best ways I can say what it’s like when you’re trying to lean on the car and it’s snapping and unrecoverable. And this car, it’s random.”
Hamilton has been involved in many Mercedes ‘experiments’
This has facilitated many behind-closed-doors conversations between Hamilton and the engineering staff.
“We sat in February and we were all upbeat. They were all telling us we were going to have massive quick car,” the seven-time world champion said.
“And I’m sure everyone who was working on it was so hyped with all the hard work they put in through the winter – it’s such a gruelling time for everyone in the team; that’s when they really crunch and out in the crazy hours.
“To then find out the damn thing doesn’t work, and we’ve got bouncing [porpoising], that was hard for everybody. Everyone was really struggling, I think.
“And we all went through our own process of how to deal with it. But I think surprisingly it’s been a really powerful transformational time for us all. We’ve got stronger and tighter as a team.
“I had a feeling when I first drove the car. But you can never say never. Maybe we would have fixed it by the first race. Who knows?
“I’d never had bouncing like that. I didn’t expect the guys to take as long. They didn’t expect it to take as long as it’s taken them to understand what’s causing the bouncing. They’ve had to create new tools, all these things we didn’t have before.
“You just just hold on to hope. And then the next upgrade comes and it doesn’t work, and the next one comes and doesn’t work.
“Imagine people that are building those things and they are seeing performance in the wind tunnel but they are not seeing it on the track. You just keep getting knocked back down.
“But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we’re still standing tall. It’s not going to be easy to change the car into a leading car for next year but I think we have a much better understanding of why the car is the way it is.
“Literally, I have tried everything. I’ve tried every setting you can possibly do. That’s what I was doing at the beginning of the year.
“The whole idea of performing at your best and getting the best result each weekend, of course that would be nice, but I was really about problem solving: ‘I will sacrifice this session or all the sessions to be able to find more data and information for you.’ So that when we go back to the factory they’ve got a better understanding of what’s going on.’ But it ultimately hindered some of the weekends.
“I have the big, deep conversations with people I’ve been with for 10 years. So, me and [Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ engineering director] can have arguments, constructive arguments.”