By Carol M. Creasey
After the obvious pain suffered by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell when driving their cars in Baku, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo added their voices to protest about the porpoising that is affecting so many of the cars.
Ultimately, the FIA stepped in, noting that as well as being dangerous for their health, the continuous bouncing made it hard to keep the car on the road, and stated that they are going to conduct tests for bouncing, establish a metric and require cars that bounce more than allowed to take measures to reduce it. In the meantime the FIA will work with the teams in an effort to eradicate the problem.
In Free Practice 1 and 2, Mercedes trialled new floors on their car, but by the end of FP2, Sir Lewis declared his car to be undriveable. He said no amount of tweaks or changes that they make helps the W13, in fact he thought it made it worse. It was clear that after patiently trialling so many different things, he has become frustrated, and Mercedes had no idea how to unlock the performance in their car.
Free Practice 3 was hindered by rain, but with Russell in 7th and Sir Lewis in 13th place, it was clear that Mercedes were well and truly on the back foot.
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But, by the time Qualifying had arrived, Mercedes had made more changes, and were upbeat again. It had been raining, and conditions on the track were constantly changing. By the time Q3 had arrived, Sir Lewis managed to qualify in 4th place behind Max Vestappen, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz in that order. Russell had taken a chance on his last run going out on soft tyres, but had come off at the first corner. Lewis said he had debated about doing the same, but had decided it was too risky.
The weather on race day was dry. Alonso had stated he was going for Verstappen before the first corner, but it didn’t happen, and the first four all got away safely. Kevin Magnusson once again had attempted a dangerous move on Lewis at the start, damaged his wing and had to pit. Luckily this time, Lewis’s car was not damaged. In the meantime George had worked his way up to 5th. Lewis overtook Alonso, who did not succeed in blocking him, to claim 3rd place.
Perez had to retire with gearbox problems, and Yuki Tsunda was also out, triggering virtual safety cars. Sir Lewis maintained his 3rd position for the rest of the race, and he was encouraged by his race engineer Bono, who told him he was lapping as fast as Verstappen, and two tenths a lap faster than his team-mate.
As many people have tried to say that Lewis is now number 2 at Mercedes, this has certainly put them in their place. George has acquitted himself very well since he joined the team, and will undoubtedly push Lewis to even greater heights in the future, but although the points tally tells a different story, there are reasons for that, as Lewis has been trialling different parts and setups. Lewis has done that because his main focus had been to help Mercedes improve and hopefully get back to their winning ways.
A late Safety Car brought the top 3 much closer, but Sainz was unable to pass Verstappen, so it remained Verstappen 1st Sainz 2nd and Lewis 3rd. George came next in 4th. Lewis was delighted with his podium, and vowed to push even harder. Silverstone is in just two weeks time, and he wants to do a good race for his home crowd. Toto Wolff paid tribute to him afterwards for pushing the team forward. Needless to say, Lewis’ fans are delighted to see him back on the podium, knowing he will be striving towards even better results. And the haters, right now I hear a deathly silence.
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