Nico Rosberg was not one to mince his words when asked to analyse Lewis Hamilton’s performance at this past weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Mercedes – Rosberg’s former team – dropped the ball big time this year, producing the worst car since their comeback into Formula 1 over a decade ago. Chained in the midfield with no apparent way out, the W13 is proving to be an unlucky chassis for Hamilton and his teammate George Russell.
While the seven-time F1 World Champion has struggled, so too has lesser-experienced Russell but not to the same extent as a fine fourth place at Imola on Sunday testifies, compared to Hamilton’s woeful afternoon down in 13th.
Embarrassment turned to despair as Hamilton could not find a way past the back of the midfield and then, his nemesis and race winner, Max Verstappen lapping the Mercedes in the process. Humiliation.
Crestfallen Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff reported to his senior driver: “Sorry for what you have had to drive today, I know this is undrivable and not what we deserve to score the result. We move from there, but this was a terrible race.”
Hamilton replied: “No worries, Toto. Let’s keep working hard.”
“Yeah. We will come out of this,” added Wolff neglecting to tell him that Russell was up the road in fourth with the same piece of kit.
It was a stonking race for the kid in the other Silver Arrows who now leads Hamilton by 21 points after four rounds. More humiliation.
Nico: There was more in that car, but Toto is trying to lift Lewis
Rosberg, who beat Hamilton to the F1 title in 2016, then quit the best seat in F1 at the time – Mercedes – and turned his back on the sport the next day, said of his former team: “Toto was playing the mental game. Taking the blame allows them to support Lewis mentally.
“By saying: Hey, Lewis, it is none of your doing, it is really on us’, is very smart because it is not really the truth. Let’s not forget that Russell finished fourth with that same car so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result.
“There was more in that car, but Toto is trying to lift Lewis up because it is so important to make sure Lewis is motivated for the whole season. It is easy for him to lose motivation in these types of situations,” explained Rosberg.
Kovalainen: Racing against Hamilton nearly killed Rosberg
Earlier in the week, another former Hamilton teammate Heikki Kovalainen, when the pair shared a garage with McLaren, said of what it takes to match the Briton: “I think Rosberg had to use all the tools from his toolbox to beat Lewis.
“That nearly killed him, Rosberg said it himself, he couldn’t have done another season like that or he’d be dead,” added Kovalainen.
Of his own two years (2008 and 2009) with Hamilton at McLaren, Kovalainen recalled: “Occasionally I could match him but over the full season I had to stretch every session to match him
“You can only do so much stretching and then you run out of energy and that was the case with me, I didn’t have enough margin in my capacity to do the times and the races that he did, so it was not easy,” added the Finn.
With 103 F1 wins to his credit, the seven titles and his name carved on a large trunk of the sport’s history, Hamilton of today is perhaps not as hungry as he was a decade ago, and it’s taking a proper talent (which Lewis was too when he burst onto the scene) like Russell to ask obvious questions of a driver that has ruled the roost for a decade and a half.
How much longer will Lewis stay motivated scrapping for a point or two? Watch this space or tune into Nico!