Hamilton fears further Mercedes struggles after Monaco woe

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

Lewis Hamilton is not confident Mercedes will quickly bounce back from a difficult day at the Monaco Grand Prix where he lost the lead in the drivers' standings.

The defending Formula One champion had a 14-point advantage over second-placed Max Verstappen heading into Sunday's race.

But Hamilton, who had to settle for seventh in qualifying, was never in contention as Verstappen triumphed to move four points clear.

The Briton might still have limited the damage, but Mercedes endured a particularly tough time in the pit lane.

Sebastian Vettel stole ahead of Hamilton and Pierre Gasly when the three pitted, pushing the Silver Arrows superstar down the field, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas had to retire from second when mechanics failed to remove his front-right wheel.

"We do all our discussions in the background. We'll work together and try to come out of this stronger," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"We underperformed as a team all weekend, from the get-go. We'll just put our focus onto the next race, and congratulations to Max and his team. They did a great job."

Although Hamilton is keen to look ahead to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he does not expect the trip to Baku to see Mercedes' fortunes change significantly for the better.

"I would be guessing, but it's another street circuit, another one that's really cold, a very smooth circuit," he said.

"It's another one that we could easily struggle at again – similar to here. We're just going to have to try to work and see how we can minimise that loss."

This is the first time in Verstappen's career he has led the championship, but he agrees Mercedes are better suited to "normal tracks" and so is not getting carried away.

"If it [his name] is there at the end of the season, that would be great," Verstappen told a news conference. "There's still a long way to go.

"Of course it's great to bounce back after the last two races, where of course the gap got bigger. We still have to work hard because we know Mercedes, on normal tracks, are still the ones to beat."

Verstappen had never previously had a podium at Monaco – "I've always been quick around Monaco, I've just shunted a few too many times," he argued – but says this improved display is not reason to be overly optimistic in Baku.

"Baku is a completely different circuit," he said, adding: "You can't really compare with each other, but normally we should be competitive."

Related items

  • 'Franchise driver' Norris as good as Fernando Alonso, says McLaren boss Brown 'Franchise driver' Norris as good as Fernando Alonso, says McLaren boss Brown

    Lando Norris is a "franchise driver" and is as good as Formula One icon Fernando Alonso, McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes.

    The 23-year-old is set for his fifth year with McLaren and has a new teammate for 2023 in Oscar Piastri, resulting in an exciting youthful pairing in F1.

    McLaren have high hopes for their future in F1, with Brown recently outlining his objective of competing for the title by 2025, and Norris is an integral part of those plans.

    The team have managed to keep Norris out of the clutches of Red Bull, whom he has spoken to in the past, with the young driver tied down until 2025 and seen as a figure McLaren can build around.

    Though there is still plenty for Norris to achieve in F1, Brown suggests he is comparable to two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso.

    "Lando's a franchise driver. Lando's one of those guys if we put everyone in a dirt buggy and we put all the F1 drivers in a race, he'd be at the front because he's got that kind of natural talent," Brown told ESPN.

    "I think he is as good as anyone on the grid, and I've felt that from day one when I put him against Fernando in the 24 Hours of Daytona, foreign car, foreign track.

    "I think Fernando is as good as any F1 driver there's ever been, and Lando matches him, and depending on what time of day it was, maybe he even got him a little bit, and vice versa.

    "You see that natural talent. You do get some drivers who are a one-make discipline and you throw them in a unique situation and they don't get up to speed as quickly."

    Norris is still waiting for a maiden victory in F1 but he did see Mercedes' George Russell – someone he raced alongside during their junior careers – secure a win last season.

    Brown feels that will provide encouragement for the forthcoming campaign.

    "He wants to be winning races, I'm sure he knows he can beat George and he has beaten George before... and he goes out and wins," Brown added.

    "He's going to be anxious people he's raced with don't get too many more wins before he starts getting his."

  • Alfa Romeo appoint Alunni Bravi as Vasseur successor Alfa Romeo appoint Alunni Bravi as Vasseur successor

    Alfa Romeo have appointed Alessandro Alunni Bravi as team representative following Frederic Vasseur's exit to Ferrari.

    Part of the Sauber Group since 2017, Alunni Bravi's new role effectively fills that of a team principal and he will "represent the team in all official functions at race weekends and away from the track".

    The appointment marks one of the first major tasks completed by Andreas Seidl, who joined as the new CEO of the Sauber Group last month from McLaren.

    "I am delighted to confirm the appointment of Alessandro Alunni Bravi to the role of team representative, in addition to his existing duties of managing director of the Group," Seidl said.

    "His vast experience in motorsport has equipped him with all the tools he needs to succeed, and his intimate knowledge of the team, of which he has been part for more than five years, will ensure stability and continuity in our progression.

    "Alessandro representing the team during the Formula One championship will allow me to focus on growing the Group and preparing for the challenges and opportunities that await us.

    "I thank Alessandro for his belief in our vision and I welcome him to this additional position: I am convinced this is another valuable addition to what is without any doubt a very strong team, from the drivers to the management team, to each one of our employees, capable of building on last year's success and creating a bright future for Sauber."

    The team is entering a transitional period this year, with the Alfa Romeo naming deal expiring at the end of the 2023 season and will be replaced by Audi, who officially enters F1 in 2026.

    Testing ahead of the new season begins in Spain next month, with the first race taking place in Bahrain on March 20.

  • Ben Sulayem: F1 belongs to the FIA and has only been rented out Ben Sulayem: F1 belongs to the FIA and has only been rented out

    FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem made it clear that Formula One's governing body has a say on who controls the series' commercial rights.

    The civil war between the FIA and F1 took another twist this week after Ben Sulayem expressed concern about reports that Saudi Arabia is interested in buying the sport for a mammoth $20billion (£16.15bn) fee.

    F1 responded fiercely, insisting that owners Liberty Media has the "exclusive right" to "exploit the commercial rights".

    Ben Sulayem is not backing down, however, with his belief that the FIA still has a decisive say on the matter.

    "The championship is ours. We have only rented it out," he said at the Monte Carlo rally, per Auto Motor und Sport.

    "So far there are only rumours about a possible sale. But the FIA should have a say and be able to offer advice."

    Two decades ago, a 100-year lease deal was agreed between the FIA and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for a reported fee of $300m (£242m) – a figure significantly lower than the motorsport's current value.

    Despite that, it is reported that a 'Don King clause' hands the FIA veto power over any sale.

    Ben Sulayem has regularly been at loggerheads with F1 since taking charge of the FIA in December 2021, recently publicly backing Andretti's proposed entry alongside General Motors and adopting a tough stance against drivers wearing jewellery during the 2022 season.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.