Mercedes ‘desperate’ amid performance ‘catastrophe’

Wed, 10 April 2024, 10:00

Apr.10 (GMM) Frederic Vasseur sounded impatient when asked if he’s made a mistake by choosing Lewis Hamilton over the on-form Carlos Sainz for 2025 and beyond.

“We have the same question each weekend,” said the Ferrari boss last weekend at Suzuka. “Copy-paste my reply of last week.

“Next question,” the Frenchman added.

However, seven time world champion Hamilton – now regularly struggling to keep up with George Russell at Mercedes – is clearly already putting his mind into red overalls.

He said in Japan that he will soon kick off an awkward “conversation” with Toto Wolff about when he can start his transition to Ferrari later this year.

“Clearly Lewis is already focused on 2025, which shows a lack of confidence in his current team,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. “The fact that he’s already mentally in a different place clearly poses a serious problem.”

Hamilton, 39, even voluntarily let Russell past him at Suzuka last Sunday – an act their boss Wolff called “extremely fair”.

After the race, Hamilton then lost his temper with a reporter who asked if Ferrari’s superior form at present makes him jealous. “Do you have any better questions?” said the Briton before ending the interview and walking off.

Mercedes famously dominated the previous regulations era, but at Suzuka – amid the team’s ongoing three-season slump beginning in 2022 – Fernando Alonso admitted a move to silver next year is not overly “attractive”.

“I don’t think Toto knows what to say anymore,” observed former F1 driver Christian Danner, speaking to the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV this week.

“When he said his drivers did well at Suzuka, I thought he’s seen a different race,” he added.

Ralf Schumacher thinks the one-stop “experiment” with hard tyres tried by Mercedes after the early red flag was “almost desperate”.

Danner explains: “If I have a not-so-fast car, I might do a nonsense tactic that could work if you’re really lucky. So you see how desolate it is for them at the moment.

“It’s obviously a catastrophe that we’re witnessing,” said Danner. “Not just from Hamilton’s point of view, where he’s driving himself crazy and not getting anywhere, but also the whole team.”

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