Lewis Hamilton admits there is “huge” pressure “not just” on Toto Wolff but the entire Mercedes squad to recover from two dispiriting seasons for the former World Champions.
In command of the Formula 1 standings for seven successive seasons, Hamilton and Mercedes racked up six Drivers’ titles, the seventh going to his team-mate Nico Rosberg, and seven Constructors’ from 2014 to 2020.
The tide, though, began to turn in 2021 when Max Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the World title by eight points with a last-lap-of-the-championship pass.
‘A huge amount of pressure on everyone’
Hamilton, already disappointed at having lost out on a record-breaking eighth crown, had no idea 2021 would be the last season in which he’d win a Grand Prix.
Two years into Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era the Briton is on a 44-race win-less streak, 45 going back into 2021, while Mercedes have managed just one victory in that period.
Admitting they got it “wrong” with the design philosophy of their new cars, the team revamped the W14 in Monaco but even that only produced small gains.
As such the team has vowed that next season’s car will be an all-new beast as they’re changing every single component.
Whether that will be enough to reel in the rampant Red Bull squad, only time will tell.
The pressure to do so is on.
“A huge amount of pressure, for sure,” Hamilton told the BBC Sport.
“Not just Toto, but globally, for all of us. Everyone back at the factory, a huge amount of pressure on everyone.”
Toto Wolff needs to ‘lean on people more’
A team that prides itself on its “no blame” culture, Wolff has often spoken about that in the past saying as recently as August that “you just need to remind yourself constantly about that mindset and those values, that you blame the problem and not the person.”
Hamilton, however, says the time has come for the boss to start “leaning” on his people.
But he concedes that is not easy to do while still maintaining a constructive approach.
“Ultimately, as a boss like Toto, you have to start leaning on people more, rather than backing off on them. And how you do that is not easy, because people break at a certain point,” he added.
“So how do you do it in a constructive way that’s encouraging them and inspiring them to continue?
“For me, hopefully, some of the race results and drives that I’ve been able to put in, I like to think that sparks inspiration for the guys, like: ‘Oh, we’re almost there.’
“And that trickles down through the whole system like: ‘Oh, he’s still got it – if we work hard and give him the car, he’s going to take us there.’
“That’s what I strive to be able to try to do.”
Despite Mercedes’ troubles this season the Brackley squad still managed to finish runner-up in the championship by three points ahead of Ferrari.
However, they were a massive 451 behind Red Bull.
Hamilton, who has re-signed with the team for a further two years, has “faith that we will get there.
“Winning the World Championship is a huge part of that drive. Continuing to build with the team in terms of the impact work we’re doing, continuing to push with the team with Mission 44.”