Fernando Alonso has said Lewis Hamilton’s struggles this season are a “good reminder” as to how crucial the car is to anyone’s success.
For the first time in nine seasons, Hamilton is driving in a car currently unable to fight for the championship. His race results so far have ranged from good to downright awful and after five grands prix, he has just one podium to his name largely due to a double retirement from Red Bull.
It is a far cry from the form we are used to seeing from the seven-time World Champion. After the same number of races last year, he already had three wins but both he and Mercedes currently seem a far way off that achievement.
Another World Champion who has found himself fighting in the midfield due to the car beneath him is Alonso and he said Hamilton’s current form is a “good reminder” as to how important the car is.
“This is F1. It is not going to be a fair sport in terms of numbers,” the Spaniard told BBC Sport.
“This is a team sport more than anything and we tend to forget this, especially when we have success. We are so happy for what we are achieving that even if we try to share with the team, all the headlines are for the driver.
“It happened to me when I won the two championships [in 2005 and 2006 with Renault]. I was beating Michael Schumacher. This was a big topic, but my car was more reliable at that time and had very good performance and you cannot praise enough that package because the headlines will still be the driver. And with Lewis it’s the same.
Torquing Point: George Russell up there with the best in 2022 so far
George Russell has shown why Mercedes have put so much faith in him so far in 2022.
“To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years.
“We were doing magic laps sometimes and we were P15, and how do you explain that to people? It will be impossible.
“He deserves everything he’s achieved in the past but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car.”
Not only is Hamilton struggling to fight at the front, he also has a battle on his hands to remain the better-performing Mercedes driver, since team-mate George Russell is showing an ability to get more out of the misfiring Mercedes.
Russell, having joined the team this season, is 23 points ahead of his veteran team-mate in the Drivers’ Standings, but Alonso still believes it will be Hamilton who comes out on top by the end of the campaign.
Asked if he is surprised Russell has run Hamilton so close, Alonso said: “Yes and no. George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis.
“But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front. This is just a five-race championship, but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent.”