Hamilton: Mercedes “still lacking two or three tenths in race pace” to the front group following F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Mercedes is experiencing one of their most challenging starts to a Formula 1 season since their return to the sport in 2010. It is underscored by the surprising success of their customer team, McLaren.

With Lando Norris behind the wheel, they secured a victory in Miami and went close again in Imola, highlighting Mercedes’ need for a significant turnaround.

In an effort to improve performance, Mercedes introduced upgrades at the historic Italian circuit as they look to chip away at the gap to the front. Lewis Hamilton finished P6, and his teammate George Russell followed in P7.

Russell made a late pit stop for medium tyres, allowing him to clinch the extra point for the fastest lap. Despite this, it was evident that Mercedes was not in contention with the leading teams like Ferrari, McLaren, and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, although progress is slowly being made.

When asked if he felt like he was in no man’s land, Hamilton assured he was in battles. He started to close in on Russell at a rate of knots before his teammate pitted in the closing stages.

“I had George ahead of me, I could see people and I was chasing, so I never felt like I was alone.

“I was just pushing trying to close whatever gap that was ahead of me, but we don’t have the pace of the
others at the moment, but we are slowly seeking closer.”

Regarding the gap to the front runners, Hamilton estimated they are a bit closer compared to qualifying.

The seven-time World Champion also spoke about his mistake at turn 12 just before his pit stop as he went into the gravel following a lock-up.

“I mean on a single lap it’s half a second.  But in the race probably a little bit less, maybe three-tenths of a second.

“I think about 5 seconds with that off, then that meant that I came out behind Fernando and then I lost a bunch of seconds there, I think all in all 8 seconds probably? Not ideal but I didn’t lose any positions.

“I think my pace in the second stint was comparable to the guys up front, but I think we’re still lacking two or three tenths in race pace.”

The gap is unlikely to close immediately as Hamilton added that there is not that level of an upgrade coming through at the moment.

“George had four-tenths [deficit], I was five-tenths off yesterday, in race probably four or three-tenths, that’s not in the wind tunnel at the moment, development-wise.”