Wolff hits out at irrelevant Hamilton claim and details Brits mood

Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes

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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has leapt to the defence of Lewis Hamilton and claimed it is “irrelevant” that the seven-time world champion finished behind his team-mate George Russell in 2022. The Briton endured his worst campaign in his Formula 1 career after a challenging season for the Silver Arrows in which they struggled to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari.

Hamilton failed to win a single race for the first time in his 16 seasons in F1 and also finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, his lowest-ever final position in the standings.

His misery was compounded with a mechanical retirement at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after three consecutive second-placed finishes in the United States, Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

The 37-year-old finished 35 points behind George Russell, who enjoyed his debut season with the Brackley-based manufacturer, and was outclassed by his compatriot after leading home an impressive 1-2 at Interlagos. But Wolff believes that the issue is not important because, unlike in their previous eight seasons, the Mercedes duo were rarely competing for wins.

“That is irrelevant. They were not racing for a world championship,” he said. “They haven’t raced for victories apart from Brazil. I don’t think for any of the team it matters whether they finish second, third, fourth or fifth.”

Mercedes experienced a turbulent season on the track after struggling to find a solution to their porpoising issues, which even left Hamilton with an injured back after one race. The W13 car was some way off their competitors as Red Bull won 17 of the 22 races in 2022 after a significant change to the regulations.

Despite their worst season on track since 2012, Mercedes team principal Wolff insisted 2021 felt “much worse” for the team – and explained how Hamilton’s jovial presence behind the scenes kept their spirits up.

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“Last year was much worse,” added Wolff. “Last year it was taken away from us. This year we lost it on merit. We just weren’t good enough.

“Lewis has been really, really good because you expect a world champion, who has had the title taken away from him, to just come in and smash everybody. But we didn’t give him the car to do that.

“He has lifted us up at times with the energy levels he has shown in the briefing room when it was difficult for him. For me, knowing him for 10 years from a personality side, from a human side, his attitude and mindset this year was outstanding.”

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