Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has mocked Lewis Hamilton’s struggles with Mercedes at the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season, jibing that the seven-time world champion will regret not retiring from the sport in winter.
Rumours were abound in the off-season that Hamilton could walk away from F1, after the controversial circumstances in which he lost out on the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen. Hamilton eventually returned when Mercedes launched their new W13 car ahead of the new campaign, but could not have foreseen the problems the teams has been suffering with since then.
Having won every constructors’ championship since 2014, the Silver Arrows are way off the pace of frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull so far this season, and unable to challenge for race victories. F1’s return to ground effect designs for the first time since the 1980s has allowed cars to follow one another more closely and for drivers to race each other harder, but has brought with it an aerodynamic quirk known as porpoising, which is hampering Mercedes’ performance.
Porpoising is the name given to the phenomenon whereby air becomes trapped under the car’s floor, which from this season onwards is being used to generate more downforce than ever before. When the air is trapped, is moves rapidly backwards and forwards underneath the car, causing it to bounce up and down wildly at high speeds on the straights.
While some teams have been able to mitigate the intensity of their porpoising, Mercedes are struggling with it so much that team principal Toto Wolff revealed during the course of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend that their drivers were having to lift off the accelerator on the straights just to be able to control the car.
Hamilton is toiling more than team-mate George Russell, however. The Williams graduate has finished in the top five in all four races so far this season, and scored an impressive fourth place at Imola on Sunday to build a 21-point advantage over seventh-placed Hamilton in the drivers’ standings. The 37-year-old was painfully lapped by Verstappen in the latter stages of the race.
There was no love lost between Mercedes and rivals Red Bull during the intense battle fought by Hamilton and Verstappen for last season’s championship, and the Milton Keynes-based squad seem to be revelling in Hamilton’s struggles, if Marko’s comments are anything to by.
‘I mean, he was lapped by us, so maybe he should have stopped last year, he is thinking!’, the Austrian joked to Sky Sports News.
Team principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, was a little more magnanimous.
‘He’s obviously had a horrible weekend, but he’s still a seven-time world champion,’ Horner said. ‘He hasn’t forgotten how to drive in the last four races, so at some point, they’ll sort their issues out and he’ll become a factor, I’ve got no doubt. But obviously the young guys are doing a great job at the moment.’
Verstappen led Red Bull to a one-two win ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez at Imola on Sunday, in one of Red Bull’s best results in the team’s 18-year history in the sport.
That result, combined with Charles Leclerc’s late spin which saw him drop to sixth at the chequered flag, saw the 24-year-old reduce the deficit at the top of this year’s standings to 27 points.
Verstappen secures prestigious sports award won by Hamilton, Messi and Bolt
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.