ADVERTISEMENT
hamilton spanish gp fp1 2024 mercedes herbert no to sabotage

Herbert: Mercedes “sabotaging” Hamilton is a load of rubbish

hamilton spanish gp fp1 2024 mercedes herbert no to sabotage

Johnny Herbert slammed claims that Mercedes is prioritising George Russell over Lewis Hamilton as a “load of rubbish” after the Formula 1 team referred an anonymous email accusing the team of “sabotaging” the seven-time F1 World Champion’s car, in his final season with the team.

Hamilton is moving to Ferrari at the end of this season, bringing to an end a lifetime association with Mercedes. All his 103 victories, 104 pole positions and his seven F1 world titles were all won with Mercedes power.

The way-too-early announcement (1 February 2024) means a long, high-profile, headline-grabbing season of separation from Mercedes for Hamilton. Amid this George Russell assumes the number-one driver for the team while awaiting his new teammate’s identity.

ADVERTISEMENT

Amid this, Hamilton himself suggested that he might not be getting equal kit to Russell. More so as the long divorce proceeds until the end of this season. Trolls on social media took the debate to the usual level of absurdity and toxicity – the anonymous emailer in particular – by suggesting the Briton is being sabotaged by the Mercedes team.

A notion Herbert slammed: “It’s all a load of rubbish! The only thing that happens within a team when a driver says he is leaving is that they will focus on the other driver as he is the future.

“They won’t show him the data of the new pieces that are coming along because they wouldn’t want him to take that information with him and maybe talk about it to Ferrari. That is normal for Lewis not to be in the know about everything.

Russell has to fill Hamilton’s shoes but is he ready?

russell wolff hamilton mercedes f1

“As far as doctoring his car so his performances are impacted, that is rubbish. That interferes with the constructors’ championship, the number of points a team wins and the money that they earn from that,” explained Herbert.

Hamilton’s departure was a shock to all of F1, Mercedes most of all because they expected the 39-year-old Briton to see out his career with them. Perhaps another two or three years before handing over the reigns to Russell.

But from 2025, with all signs suggesting teenager Kimi Antonelli will race for Merc in 2025, meaning Russell will become the de facto team leader no matter what they say about equality, simply because of the Englishman’s experience relative to a rookie who has to plug into the team, then prove himself.

No matter who Mercedes decide to sign, available Carlos Sainz is the safe and smart call but unlikely to happen, Russell has to fill Hamilton’s shoes. Is he ready?

Are Mercedes on the right track with their latest upgrade?

Canadian GP Qualifying: Russell Verstappen dead heat, Ferrari flop

Herbert ventured: “George is maturing and it’s the perfect time for him. Now Lewis is leaving, Mercedes is effectively George’s team. He has all the ingredients to take it further.”

On Friday, Hamilton defied suggestions his car is sabotaged and suggestions his mind is already at Maranello by ending the first day of practice for the Spanish Grand Prix fastest of all. But the question remains: Has Lewis checked out at Mercedes?

Herbert reckoned: “There may be an element of that. He has been there for so long and found it hard over the past two years that a reboot and a refresh at Ferrari was his decision. Maybe we will see more of the old Lewis when he goes to Ferrari.

“Everyone has been saying that Mercedes are on the right track after Canada. I’m not sure that’s the case. They could be in the same situation in Spain as they have been for the past couple of years. That’s fifth or sixth,” predicted Herbert, for this weekend’s race in Barcelona.

For now, Hamilton is setting the pace in Spain at a venue that teams and drivers know well and likely to provide a true pecking order of F1 at almost the halfway mark in this season. Provided it stays dry in Montmeló. (Quotes supplied by Lord Ping)