Palmer says Mercedes are “edging their way towards a first victory”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer says Lewis Hamilton had “race-winning pace” at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and predicts Mercedes will get its first win of 2022 “in the next handful of races”.

In his latest column, Jolyon Palmer says Lewis Hamilton could have been on his way to his first victory of 2022 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, even with his qualifying DRS problems.

“Whilst Russell did a stellar job in Budapest, Hamilton was the slightly stronger of the two in race conditions and finished the Grand Prix matching his best result of the season in second place,” Palmer wrote.

“We are seeing a similar trend at the moment for Mercedes – Hamilton charging from further back and having what appears to be race-winning pace but having too much to do to recover from his Saturdays.

“In fairness to Lewis, it was misfortune that dogged this particular qualifying session as his DRS didn’t open as he began his one and only new tyre attempt in Q3, leaving him with a half-second deficit to make up.

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“He therefore backed off and had to settle for a mere seventh on the grid whilst Russell rightly took the plaudits for pole.

“Had Hamilton actually not backed off, his weekend could have had an even better outcome, even with his DRS not working into Turn 1.

“Had the seven-time champ managed to match his team mate around the rest of the lap, he would have out-qualified both Alpines into fifth on the grid.”

“Given his brilliant launch on Sunday it’s feasible that he could have passed Norris into Turn 1 from there and been immediately in a position to fight with the race’s other major players.

“Instead, being stuck behind Norris opened up the gap early and forced Hamilton and Mercedes into another recovery drive,”

Palmer then predicted that Mercedes will get its first win of the 2022 season “in the next handful of races”.

“Thirteen races in and the trajectory of the team is the clearest of all on the grid: they are undoubtedly edging their way towards a first victory of the season, which I predict they will have in the next handful of races.

“The other benefit Mercedes have is Ferrari’s tendency not to maximise their potential thanks to less-than-ideal strategy calls.

“The gap between Leclerc and the Mercedes duo in the championship continues to shrink after Hungary and the battle for second in the constructors’ championship is also hotting up, thanks to Mercedes’ bulletproof reliability thus far, and their superior strategy.

“Just 30 points separates the two teams now,” the Briton concluded.

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