Lewis Hamilton still not out of the World Championship
1996 world champion Damon Hill thinks it’s far too early to rule Lewis Hamilton out of the 2022 title fight.
The 2022 season has just two races, but the signs are currently not promising for Mercedes or its seven-time world champion Hamilton.
The W13 has started the season comfortably adrift of the pace set by Red Bull and Ferrari up front, with Hamilton so far forced to settle for P3 and P10 finishes.
That being said, it’s the start of a whole new regulatory era in Formula 1, so with the potential for another 21 rounds still to come, Hill thinks it’s likely Mercedes will return to the conversation at the front.
And so, he certainly doesn’t count Hamilton.
Asked by Sky F1 if Hamilton can still become world champion in 2022, Hill replied: “Yeah, I don’t see why not.
“I think he’s a long shot, and the betting odds are apparently quite long, so it might be worth a drink on Lewis.
“As I said before, it’s going to be a long battle, we won’t remember the first races of this season by the time we get to the halfway point, it’s going to be hard work, 23 grands prix.
“And if you have an ongoing battle up front and you don’t have a dominant team, they’re unlikely to go that far.
“So it’s very likely that Mercedes could come into the mix.”
Hill also pointed out that Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell, who sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship and six points clear of Hamilton, is more than capable of taking points from the frontrunners.
“And don’t forget George Russell is there too,” Hill said.
“He does a good job and can even take points from the other guys too.”
If Hamilton were to win the title in 2022, it would be his eighth world championship and the one that would put him alone on top of the Formula 1 mountain, as he currently shares the record of being a seven-time champion with Michael Schumacher. .
It would therefore be understandable for Hamilton to be frustrated at not currently being in the mix, but Hill has seen no sign of that so far.
“I think if he’s frustrated, I think he shows very little sign of it,” Hill said.
“I think he shows disappointment and concern because he wants to win, but I think he has the comfort of seven world titles in the bank.
“And it’s not comforting when you’re so close to making eight [in 2021] and become the undisputed winningest driver of all time, so he will be determined as hell, but I think he has a calmness and maturity now that is very impressive to see.
Mercedes thinks there’s performance waiting to be squeezed out of the W13, but remains clueless on how to access it.
Russell has already stated his belief that once Mercedes control the rebound of the car, much of the lap time will come their way.
The Silver Arrows went with a very different aerodynamic philosophy for the W13, including its “zero-pod” design.
So, as long as the direction they’ve taken isn’t fundamentally wrong, Hill believes the eight-time defending constructors’ champions can fight back, perhaps as early as the next Australian Grand Prix around an Albert Park. redesigned and smooth.
“I think there’s always a chance with a team like Mercedes,” Hill said.
“They have something wrong and the hope is that if they find a solution to that they will get a big performance boost.
“That’s another question, when you look at their car it has a slightly different design philosophy aerodynamically around the bodywork at the rear of the car.
“So the hope is that they didn’t err in a fundamental design error, but the data says their car should be good, they just can’t tap into it because of this porpoising, this bouncing of this oscillation which is created by aerodynamic instability which causes the car to bounce and which affects its performance.
“But they have completely resurfaced in Melbourne, the surface is very smooth, apparently it’s more abrasive but there are less bumps and less bumps, that’s good, so maybe they can show what ‘they have.”