Lewis Hamilton’s troubles with the Mercedes W13, according to Helmut Marko, may have led him to believe he should have retired at the end of last season.
In terms of performance, Hamilton has been the main victim of a ‘porpoising’ car, indicating Mercedes’ failure to comprehend Formula 1’s new regulations.
Despite the fact that there are still 19 races left for the eight-time Constructors’ champions to turn their fortunes around, they have been significantly behind Ferrari and Red Bull thus far.
While George Russell, who has only been with Mercedes for a few months, has yet to finish outside of the top five, Hamilton is now 21 points behind his teammate after finishing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
It’s a long way from the 37-year-old Briton’s era of supremacy, when he tied Michael Schumacher for the most Drivers’ titles with seven, and even last year, when he just missed out on an eighth to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in contentious circumstances.
At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton was lapped by Verstappen entirely due to the performance of their cars, and the Dutchman went on to win – after which team principal Toto Wolff apologised over the team radio for giving him a “undriveable” car.
In an interview with Sky Sports News, Red Bull advisor Marko was asked what Hamilton might be thinking in his current situation.
“He was lapped by us so maybe he should have stopped last year, he is thinking maybe,” said Marko as he chuckled.
Marko also acknowledged the pressure Red Bull is placing on this season’s early front-runners, Ferrari, as Verstappen led Sergio Perez home in a 1-2 finish for the team at Imola.
They were also boosted by the fact that World Champion Charles Leclerc dropped from third to sixth after a spin 10 laps from the finish, decreasing his lead over Verstappen to 27 points.
When asked if Ferrari could equal Red Bull’s development rate this year, Marko replied, “I don’t think so, and what we also witnessed is that when you put genuine pressure on them, they make mistakes.”
“You could see Leclerc spun on Friday twice, [Carlos] Sainz spun today, Leclerc again. But I would say it’s a very sporting and friendly competition between Ferrari and us.”