Twilight of a legend or just a bad patch?
Difficult to describe precisely the state of form of Lewis Hamilton over the last year and a half.
Despite nine podiums, the seven-time world champion has not won any races in 2022, a first in his career.
His sixth place in the drivers' championship, far, far from double title holder Max Verstappen, is also his worst ranking in Formula 1 since his arrival in 2007. "I will win again", assured the
-year-old Briton on Thursday at Jeddah, where he will compete in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday (6 p.m.).
But the performance of the two Mercedes during the first race of the season in Bahrain on March 5 did not really reassure Sir Lewis fans.
Formula 1: the calendar of the season
Formula 1: manufacturers' classification
Formula 1: drivers classification
The single-seater in the sights
In Sakhir, the Stevenage native and his teammate George Russell crossed the finish line in 5th and 7th position respectively.
The first did not mince his words towards his team, which he accuses of not having listened to the recommendations concerning the improvements to be made to the car.
The 2023 W14 would bear too many similarities to the 2022 W13, designed on the “zero pontoon” philosophy.
The sidepods are the side air intakes on the single-seaters, allowing the engine to be cooled.
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After losing the championship in 2021, the Silver Arrows came to pre-season testing in 2022 with a very stripped-down version of this system.
A daring innovation that cost a lot last year, and in which the German team seems to have persisted for 2023. “
Last year, I told them about the problems with the car.
I've driven so many cars in my life that I know what a car needs and what it doesn't.
I don't know when or how we will raise the bar, but it has to happen, ”
said Hamilton, bitter.
If "King Lewis" has since retracted, regretting the "
choice of words
" and insisting on the importance of "
", it is difficult to take his word for it when he claims to have "
100% confidence in the 'team
The frustration is real, and the radical changes promised by team manager Toto Wolff too late.
The British driver already seems resigned to seeing the title slip away from him for the third consecutive year, as evidenced by his remarks about Red Bull after the Austrian team's double in Bahrain: "They will probably
win again this year unless Ferrari can stop them
At some point in the year we hope to close the gap, but it will probably be too late to fight for a Championship
The conflict with his engineers could weigh in the balance when discussing the contract, which expires at the end of the season.
The Russell Threat
Meanwhile, Aston Martin had an excellent first race in Bahrain and is a strong candidate for the podiums to come.
As a reminder, the single-seaters of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll are equipped with an engine… Mercedes!
Proof, if needed, that the problem of the German manufacturer lies in its chassis.
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This year again, Lewis Hamilton therefore seems excluded from the fight for the title, and condemned to fight in the middle-top of the pack.
The Briton would then fall back on the objective of winning at least one race.
And if Mercedes has lost its luster, only finishing third in the constructors' championship in 2022 after nine years of unchallenged domination, its single-seaters are capable of it.
George Russell's victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix last November proves it.
Fourth in the standings at the end of the season, the young Englishman (25) is the first driver to finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes since Nico Rosberg in 2016. What if the time for the next generation had simply come?
The 104th victory in Formula 1 may never see the light of day.
Reason for hope for Sir Lewis,
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