CAROL’S CORNER: Stop the negativity and support the team!

© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Carol M. Creasey

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have one of the most difficult cars on the grid to drive, and it is commendable to both of them that they are more often or not, in the top 5.

The Mercedes has always been referred to as a diva, as even during winning years, it was not a guaranteed win at every track. It didn’t like high altitude tracks, and Sir Lewis Hamilton had to work extremely hard in 2017 and 2018 when he was fighting Sebastian Vettel, who was then in a Ferrari. At the halfway point of both seasons, Vettel was leading in points, but he made errors, whereas Lewis has always been very consistent, kept himself out of trouble, did not DNF, and had no reliability failures.

Equally, during 2023 he has done the same. With Red Bull having such a dominant car, there has been almost no chance to fight for a win, but Lewis has managed to finish every race (up until the Qatar Grand Prix), has been in the top 5 more times than not, has overtaken Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship to claim 3rd place by 11 points, and is now fighting Sergio Perez for P2. He has had 5 podium finishes, and 2 of them were second places in Spain and Australia.

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Last year, when it became apparent that Mercedes’ car was not as good as the team had hoped, Lewis took on most of the testing duties early on in the season, which was confirmed by Toto Wolff and many of the Mercedes staff. This allowed Russell to gain an advantage in the Drivers’ Championship, and many so-called Formula One fans were quick to sneer at Lewis and try to portray it as though time had passed him by. They even wanted to make it seem like there’s a big rivalry brewing within the team.

This, however, couldn’t have be further from the truth. By his own admission, Lewis has tried to help and guide Russell because he wants him to be a championship contender for Mercedes when he retires. He is always quick to praise him when he does well. Recently he was there to pick him up when he crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix, and he defended his performance saying what a great weekend he had until the crash. I am sure Russell will have a great future after having the opportunity to drive in the same team as the GOAT.

Lewis has two more years at least with Mercedes, and he has put his faith in the team to build him a championship contending car for next year. However, many fans are unfortunately being very negative towards Mercedes. The fact is that after eight very successful years, the team got their car concept wrong, but it’s not a disaster if they come second in the Constructors’ Championship, especially because there have been times this season when they didn’t even have the second-fastest car. At many points Aston Martin, McLaren and Ferrari had obviously faster cars.

Nevertheless, Lewis and George continue to fight to get as many points as they can at each and every race, even though the car handles badly, doesn’t hold corners, slides, locks up, and definitely doesn’t provide a smooth ride. So, instead of criticising, fans should be applauding their heroic efforts and the entertainment that is provided when they tussle for position.

Fast forward to the Qatar Grand Prix. On race day, Lewis made a superb start from P3 on his soft tyres, and almost went past Russell and Verstappen to take the lead of the race. Unfortunately, Lewis and George collided, which finished Lewis’ race, and sent George to the back of the grid. After his initial anger had subsided, and he viewed the footage, Lewis took full responsibility for the move, which was later deemed a racing incident by the stewards with no further action taken. Meanwhile, Russell fought his way up the grid to fourth position and valuable points.

Whilst fans all seem to have differing opinions about the incident, one can only respect Lewis for owning his mistake. Also, Mercedes’ strategists must make sure to be on the ball in future, as with the lightning start that Lewis had with his soft tyres, if Russell had backed off, they could have both brought home a healthy haul of points. This is the first DNF for Lewis this year, which is such a shame, but I know he will continue to do his very best for the team, and the fans.

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