‘Data’ is all Hamilton can take from Imola sprint

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, behind Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin. Italy, April 2022.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, behind Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, in the Imola sprint. Italy, April 2022.

Lewis Hamilton says the Imola sprint was useful only for data-gathering for himself and his Mercedes team.

A mixture of wet weather and the resulting interruptions meant neither Mercedes made Q3 at Imola, with Hamilton left to start the sprint from P13 while his team-mate George Russell was P11 on the grid.

The Silver Arrows then made little progress across the 21-lap sprint, Russell crossing the line in the position he had started while Hamilton slipped a place and finished P14.

Mercedes had improved on a dry track during FP2, Russell topping the session, but when the race conditions arrived, the point where Mercedes generally excel against the midfield, there were no such joys.

When asked by Sky F1 what he can take from the sprint, Hamilton replied: “We’ve got data.”

Asked if it was really as basic as that, he said: “Yeah. A lot of work is going on in the background but it is what it is, it’s what we have and ultimately we haven’t got it right this year, but everyone’s working as hard as they can to correct it.”

Hamilton was then asked how he and team principal Toto Wolff are rallying the troops at Mercedes, put to him that this was the team’s worst season in the time they have both been there.

Hamilton pointed out 2013 had been a difficult year, the first season he and Wolff were at the team, but explained the titles are not on the agenda for 2022 and so Mercedes must just aim to improve.

“It wasn’t the greatest of years in 2013 but we’ve had great years since then,” said Hamilton.

“We stick together, we try to motivate everyone. This is the situation we are faced with but everyone’s got their heads down, everyone’s working as hard as they can.

“We are obviously not fighting for this championship, but we’ll be fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That’s all we can hope for right now.”

Russell believes the sprint did not go on for long enough for Mercedes to make progress, while he also explained there is only one overtaking place, that being into the Tamburello chicane after the main straight.

“It’s tricky in these sprints. I don’t know what the rest of the race was like but it felt pretty processional from where we were,” said Russell.

“The race just isn’t long enough for you to get some tyre degradation there and to have some differences between the drivers and the cars.

“But we’ve got work to do. I think the car is faster but we just don’t have the speed on the straight to actually move forward and here, you’ve got the small kinks in the straight and there’s only one overtaking opportunity so that halted our progress.”

With overtaking opportunities limited, Russell believes Mercedes will have to get the jump on the midfield through strategy.

“I think strategy will be key. We’ll have to do something different to our competition, then that will give us an opportunity to fight and move up the grid,” he confirmed.

“But it will be tricky.”


Russell believes Mercedes are behind where they deserve to be so far this weekend, having “over-achieved” in the first three rounds.

Russell left Australia P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, but was overtaken by Sainz at Imola who finished the sprint P4.

The Briton explained tyre warm-up is hampering Mercedes, but there is little they can do in the grand prix to find a better balance so they will again just have to capitalise on any opportunity.

“It’s clearly been a difficult weekend for us and we probably over-achieved in the first three races, and this weekend we are probably behind where we deserve to be,” said Russell.

“I think we know why. The tyre warm-up has been very difficult and when it was a very cold day yesterday, only 13 degrees, that’s why you saw the Haas cars excel and the McLarens who generally have difficult race pace but are very good over one lap when it’s difficult to warm the tyres up.

“So we’ve got to strike a finer balance somehow, but there’s nothing really we can do for tomorrow.

“We’ll just try to get on top of things and capitalise where possible.”


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