Hamilton and Russell told ‘pathetic’ issue could make win impossible

Lewis Hamilton reveals the Queen told him off at the Royal lunch

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Former F1 star Jolyon Palmer believes that the Mercedes car driven by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is ‘unraceable’ when pitted against Red Bull and Max Verstappen. Hamilton’s lead at the United States Grand Prix was gobbled up by the Dutchman as the team’s search for their first win of the season goes on. 

Hamilton is the only driver in F1 history to have won a Grand Prix in every season of their career. That could come to an end in 2022, however, with only three races remaining before the final standings are decided. 

It looked as though the Brit could notch that elusive win in Austin on Sunday, capitalising on a slow Verstappen pit stop to take a healthy lead in the second half of the race. But Red Bull’s superior performance shone through and the reigning double world champion passed easily to clinch his 13th win of the year. 

While on commentary duties, Palmer described Mercedes’ straight-line speed as ‘pathetic’ before adding on the F1: Chequered Flag podcast: “It’s unraceable for them. When you have Verstappen and Red Bull getting within DRS, the move is done. Lewis stayed within a second of Max for a long time.

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“Lewis was piling on the pressure but we knew he wasn’t going to have the same chance of passing because the Mercedes seemed slower than Ferrari and way slower than Red Bull. Even if the pace is workable for Mercedes, their straight-line speed makes it so tough for them to go racing.”

Prospects of crossing the line first this season appear to be fading with Hamilton admitting on Sunday that he had ‘given it everything’. Mercedes and Red Bull fought a tense battle for the top prizes in 2021 but it has been a mismatch throughout this season. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that the team made a crucial mistake when adapting to the new ground-effect era as their ride height created porpoising issues earlier in the year. Although many of the glaring problems have now been fixed, inferior speed on the straights effectively left Hamilton a sitting duck when he was being chased down by Verstappen. 

Still, reliability has been a strong point for the Silver Arrows which has kept them within touching distance of Ferrari, who have a clear pace advantage. It looked as though newcomer George Russell would shuffle the balance of power completely by stretching out a lead over Hamilton at the start of the season but Palmer believes that the veteran is still top dog. 

“When you have a new, talented youngster coming in, it can change the dynamic,” he added. “Hamilton himself did that when he came into F1 partnering Fernando Alonso. It shifted the power of the future. There was a moment earlier in the season where it looked like, ‘Wow, is this the changing of the guard? Is Russell the future of Mercedes?’.

“Lewis has overcome it emphatically as the season has gone on. Whenever Mercedes look like they could win, it’s always Hamilton at the wheel. [On Sunday] he was a long way ahead of George and he silenced the doubters because they came out pretty hard earlier in the season.”

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