Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton had a dreadful weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, drawing widespread criticism and speculation that he could have retired at the end of the 2021 season.
It has been a tough season so far for Mercedes as they struggle with their 2022 car with Lewis Hamilton now even struggling to get into the top ten. The Brit managed to rank a dismal 13th in Imola after being lapped by Max Verstappen.
Hamilton has been widely chastised for his poor performance, with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claiming that Hamilton would have retired at the end of the 2021 season. Jos Verstappen, Verstappen’s father, expressed his delight to see the 37-year old struggle.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, on the other hand, has come to Lewis Hamilton’s aid. He stated that he is fully aware of Mercedes’ potential and that he believes Sir Lewis Hamilton will be able to compete for the championship in 2022.
Hamilton had a poor weekend in Imola, finishing P14 in the sprint race after being ousted in Q2 with teammate George Russell, and finishing 13th overall, while Russell managed to ascend to fourth.
Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s team boss, apologised to him after the race, and Hamilton ruled himself out of the championship race this season after describing the weekend in Imola as “one to forget.”
Currently, the situation for the Briton appears gloomy as he’s 58 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc, and his best finish of the season was a podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix in the first round.
“Lewis had a horrible weekend but he hasn’t forgotten how to drive. Five races ago, he was fighting for the championship. They will get that car fixed and he can still be a factor in this championship,” Horner said.
“We don’t underestimate any of our rivals and the only thing we can do is focus on ourselves, try to maximise opportunities and make sure we take advantage of them.”
Max Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from teammate Sergio Perez, giving Red Bull their first one-two since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, and Horner hailed the work of everyone at the team, both on the track and back in the UK.
“All round, not only trackside but back in Milton Keynes, back at the factory, a wonderful, wonderful team performance,” he said.
The Red Bull boss is excited for the sport’s first visit to Miami, where he intends to improve on his impressive points collection from the previous weekend.
“Miami’s going to be an epic race, there’s a lot of excitement, a lot of expectation around Miami,” he explained.
“I think it’s going to be a great event, they’re very excited about it so yeah, let’s see, we’ve got to try to build on this momentum now.”
“To get the pole position, win the race yesterday, win today, a one-two finish – our first since 2016 – that’s a great result.”
With their one-two at Imola, Red Bull moved ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship, and are currently only 11 points behind Ferrari.