Mercedes has not really digested the transition to the new technical regulations of Formula 1. The team firmly believes the W13 has potential, but the endless momentum means fighting for victories isn’t one of them for now. George Russell handles the problems very well and has finished in the top five every race, but teammate Lewis Hamilton has more problems. In Imola he even ended up far outside the points on P13. Former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has an idea why the seven-time world champion is having such a hard time: he’s not used to fighting in the middle.
“I’m a huge George fan and I like Lewis a lot. It’s important to remember that George has spent the last three seasons at Williams. He was in hand-to-hand combat every weekend, stuck in traffic and constantly dueling with people,” Montoya said. VegasInsider† “On the other hand, Lewis has ridden solo every time for the last seven, eight years. He didn’t really race with anyone else because everyone would stop for him if he put them on a lap. Now he’s suddenly stuck in traffic and no matter how good you are, if you don’t practice, it’s difficult. That doesn’t mean Hamilton is worse than Russell, he just needs more time.”
Montoya states that Hamilton is currently not entirely comfortable in the Mercedes W13. The seven-time World Champion is also at a stage in his career where there is little point in driving a disappointing car at the limit while Russell, as a young challenger, has fewer problems. However, the current situation could change quickly, according to the six-time GP winner. “Give Lewis a winning car and you will see how differently he will behave. I know he doesn’t want George bossing him around every weekend. George seems much more relaxed, pushing and having something to prove while Lewis has nothing to prove. I think he’s totally focused on improving the car. Has he forgotten how to drive? No, you don’t suddenly forget that. He’s just not happy with the car.”
No mutual tensions at Mercedes
According to Montoya, the current situation within Mercedes also ensures that there are no tensions between Hamilton and Russell. “Lewis is at a different point in his career than George and that makes a big difference. Also, they don’t race against each other anymore, they just try to control the car. I’m sure they try different setups and things,” explains Montoya. “When they have a weekend that is going dramatically, they quickly shift focus to the next. Who cares when a team like Mercedes is used to winning fifth and ninth or ninth and twelfth in a race? What really matters is finding out and understanding what’s missing. If they figure out what to do, it will make a big difference.”