Lewis Hamilton hits back at ‘spoiled’ comments after being outperformed by George Russell
Hamilton 'excited and nervous' for first ever F1 race in Miami
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Lewis Hamilton has rubbished the idea that he has never driven a slow car in Formula One by insisting that the McLaren MP4-24 he raced in 2009 was considerably less favourable than Mercedes’ current offering. The 37-year-old has endured a horrendous start to the new campaign and has been forced to play second fiddle to George Russell at almost every Grand Prix since his opening-day podium in Bahrain.
Hamilton currently finds himself three places and 21 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship standings and now looks to have almost no chance of securing a record-breaking eighth title at the end of the season. It has recently been suggested by a number of pundits, including the likes of ex-F1 driver Marc Surer, that Hamilton may be struggling in comparison to Russell because he has always been given a race-winning car throughout the entirety of his spell on the grid.
“He’s spoiled,” Surer told Formel1.de last month when quizzed on Hamilton’s poor start to the season. “[Russell has previously been forced to] beat the Williams around the track, which was not perfect at all, and has sometimes done miracles with it. Russell is used to driving fast with a bad car, Lewis is no longer used to that.”
Hamilton has since moved to dismiss Surer’s claims by pointing out that he was forced to contend with a hugely difficult car in his first season as a defending champion back in 2009.
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“There are people that watch and say I’ve never had a bad car, and I can assure you that I have,” he told The Race. “2009’s car was very, very far off, the worst car that I’ve had. This car currently is not far off that experience.”
Hamilton struggled to compete in 2009 due to the lacklustre pace of his McLaren MP4-24, which saw the British outfit slip away from their Constructors’ Championship rivals after failing to ace the ‘skinny’ aerodynamic regulation changes that were introduced at the start of the year. The man from Stevenage failed to register a single podium finish in any of that season’s first nine Grands Prix and even went four straight races without scoring a point before the tide finally turned at the halfway stage of the campaign.
“It was a brand new era of car and I remember coming back In January to the team and the head of aerodynamics saying: ‘We’ve already hit our target’,” explained Hamilton. “The new rules said we would have 50 per cent less downforce in 2009, so they designed a car to have 50 per cent less downforce.
“I remember in February them saying we’ve already hit our target, and I remember being like: ‘That doesn’t sound right’. But I didn’t have the experience at the time. We got to the first test and realised others had almost as much downforce as the previous year and we were like: ‘Oh shoot, we’ve got work to regain that’.”
The situation at McLaren in 2009 bears plenty of similarities to the current state of affairs at Mercedes, who have failed to adapt to this year’s new technical regulations and have been paying the price with their sub-par results since pre-season testing. It remains to be seen whether the Silver Arrows will be able to put things right at this weekend’s race in Miami as they look to close the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull and revive their faint hopes of Constructors’ Championship glory as a matter of urgency.
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