By Carol M. Creasey
Mercedes have been doing a lot of work and gathering of data to find out why their car is not performing as well as they expected this year, so for the first Miami Grand Prix the W13 was sporting several updates and modifications.
During Friday’s free practice the updates appeared to have worked, with George Russell setting the fastest time in FP2, and Lewis Hamilton in fourth, but with tiny time margins between the cars. People have speculated all through this season that George is outshining his seven-time world champion partner, but their arguments are quite a stretch. Sir Lewis, as the head driver of the team, and the more experienced driver has been the one testing the more extreme setups, whereas George has been doing more conventional work. It happened in qualifying too, when Sir Lewis qualified in 13th place at Imola, he had been testing a different setup for the team, which clearly didn’t work. In the race he ultimately got stuck in a DRS train, unable to move up.
In Miami, though, any hopes of improvement were dashed for George, as he qualified in 12th place, and Lewis was 6th. Afterwards he stated how grateful he was to be able to get P6, which indicates just what a struggle it is to drive the car competitively. At the start of the race, Fernando Alonso hit Lewis in the back of the car, and he stated frankly to his team that it just wasn’t the same after that. George had a poor start and ended up in P17, but once his hard tyres warmed up, he was able to move up the grid. Lewis was put on the hard tyre during his stop, while George stayed out, and then got a free pit stop due to a safety car. Ultimately, George managed to pass Lewis on fresh medium tyres to claim fifth, while Lewis was sixth.
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Of course this result has caused jubilation and sneering comments from armchair critics. Not taking away anything form George’s brilliant performances, but he will be the first to admit that although he has more points than his fellow Brit, he has had been more lucky with safety cars and strategy in the first five races. For Lewis at the moment, safety cars are the bane of his life. First of all last December in Abu Dhabi his rightful eighth championship was denied him because of safety car rules being disregarded, and in several races this year he has been compromised by a safety car.
I take my hat off to George for having started his career at Mercedes off so well, but even with more points on paper, for armchair critics and some pundits to suggest this proves he has outclassed Lewis, is frankly ridiculous. He is still at the beginning of his career and it remains to be seen if he can reach Lewis’ level, but he has many years ahead of him to try and achieve that. To anyone who doubts Sir Lewis, do so at your peril, he has a tendency to always rise. Now it is up to Mercedes to give him the tools to get to the front and show everyone how it is done, as he did for many years before!
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