Mercedes boss Toto Wolff accepts that he has to take it upon himself to “protect” star driver Lewis Hamilton from being criticised. The Austrian believes that it is imperative he maintains this demeanour to ensure that Hamilton remains motivated despite a disastrous start to the season.
Hamilton was forced to settle for P13 at the most recently concluded Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. His teammate George Russell, meanwhile, ended the race just one position behind a podium finish.
This made it his third race out of four where he has recorded a better result than Hamilton. This has prompted plenty of criticism aimed at Hamilton, with many rival fans feeling vindicated seeing Lewis struggle in a car that is nowhere near the best on the circuit.
It had long been argued that Hamilton’s success was a direct result of Mercedes’ superiority compared to its rivals in recent years.
With the 2022 regulations presenting a new set of challenges for manufacturers, Mercedes is yet to find a solution to solve its early-season problems.
Why is Wolff defending Hamilton?
Hamilton has claimed that the car he has been offered this season is “undriveable” and yet Russell is delivering far better results than him.
It has led Wolff to publically defend the seven-time champion in a bid to keep him motivated.
“Well, in a way, I have to protect him. It’s not his low,” Wolff said.
“I think it’s the low of the car performance. We know that he’s a seven-time World Champion. He caught up last year, him and us as a team. We caught up and nearly fought for the championship, whilst it was actually lost on Saturday of Brazil.
“The guy is the best driver in the world and he’s just not having the machine and equipment underneath him to be able to execute…”
Wolff backs Hamilton to return to form
Wolff believes it is just a matter of time before Hamilton returns to his best and Russell’s positive results will only spur him on.
“To take that, in a way, I think it’s even irrelevant whether you come in eighth, 12th, 15th… [it] doesn’t matter, it’s all bad,” Wolff said.
“But the real stars, they have recovered. Of [all] the really great ones that come into my mind, [they had] certain moments in their career where things didn’t run properly and that is the case now with him.
“It’s gonna help the team to sort itself out and we’re sticking together through good and bad times, and [Imola] certainly was a very bad day.”