Updated on 23/05/2022, 16:40
- Lewis Hamilton plowed through the field in Barcelona after an early collision to finish as number five.
- The house tour was reminiscent of glorious title times for Mercedes.
- Hamilton’s fifth place is a boost of motivation and a sign that the Silver Arrows may soon be back in the title fight.
Lewis Hamilton wanted to give up. Park your Mercedes and take it easy on the engine. He was not in the mood for another pointless run in the gray midfield at the sixth race of the season in Barcelona with no prospect of anything countable. But in the end, there was not only fifth place, but two realizations: Mercedes is back – and so is seven-time world champion Hamilton after a real house trip.
“A race like this feels better than a victory,” said the 37-year-old, who afterwards was happy that his team told him to stay out and ignored his wish. “Of course I’m glad we did not,” Hamilton said, “it shows once again that one can never give up.”
Hamilton did not want to use up the engine
Hamilton got his silver arrow flat at first after just four turns after a collision with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and rumbled down into the pit. Hamilton expressed the idea of giving up when he returned to the field just over 40 seconds after the tire change. “It was about not consuming the engine so I could run around the whole race in last place and then maybe risk a penalty later in the year when the durability comes into play,” Hamilton explained. But instead of giving up, the attack followed.
“It was Lewis’ emotional roller coaster again,” said former world champion Damon Hill. “A world championship trip, out of nowhere.” Hamilton also felt “this comeback reminded me of some of my previous races. It feels great”.
Memories of dominant World Cup years
Not to mention that Hamilton’s teammate George Russell, who had a hassle-free race, finished in third place on the podium. Above all, Hamilton was celebrated, who was named as the driver of the day by the fans. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff even believes that without the puncture, Hamilton would have been “in a position to drive to victory”. The race also brought back memories of the Austrian race “from our world championship year, where we had a car that we could still win with from the very back”.
That’s the key word: win. After tough weeks with the new car, Mercedes seems to be heading in the right direction. “Learning by doing,” as Wolff calls it, so to speak, open heart surgery, “we understand step by step what we need to do to restore the car’s performance,” Wolff says.
The so-called “guinea pig” that jumps on straight has finally got Mercedes under control. With the update in Barcelona, the team is no longer about constantly solving problems over the course of a race weekend, but about finding further achievements. “We can now focus on getting more potential out of the car,” Russell said. Ideally, soon the maximum.
Also read: Sebastian Vettel’s team is suspected of fraud
The drivers are euphoric. “We have reversed the trend. Now the season is starting in earnest for us,” Russell said. “We are six races behind, but there is no reason why we can not come back.”
Because Barcelona can be a turning point. “We were a second behind, now it’s only half a second, and we finally understand the car better,” said Wolff, who announced: “We will soon catch up even more.” Combined with the powerful motivation boost from the Barcelona result, this can certainly be understood as a declaration of war. Because of Hamilton’s house riding, there are “good reasons to believe that we will soon be able to win races again and maybe still fight for the two world championships,” Wolff said.
Also read: Heath drama in Barcelona: Verstappen still rages and triumphs
Back in the duel with Russell
Hamilton also believes that victories “definitely” are possible in the near future. His personal problem: Despite his impressive drive forward, he continues to lose the internal duel with Russell. He is overall number four, 36 points behind world championship leader Max Verstappen. Hamilton is sixth, 64 points behind. But Barcelona showed that it is not an opportunity to give up.
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The Formula 1 teams have rarely started into such an uncertain future as they did in 2022. Even the pre-season was marked by the new rules in some motorhomes, in the workshops and in the design studios. They will take effect in 2022. And that’s why the new cars look like this. © ProSiebenSat.1