For much of the first official Formula 1 race weekend of 2022, the big story out of the paddock continued to be the underperformance of the Mercedes team.
After absolutely dominating the last eight years, Mercedes spent much of Sunday’s Bahrain GP riding around in fifth and sixth, with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton leading young teammate George Russell.
Mercedes tried everything to get back up front, first bringing Hamilton in for his first pit stop before anybody on the hard tires, then in bringing Russell in on hards while most teams were choosing mediums. Neither really worked.
With 12 laps to go in the race, Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri caught on fire, bringing out the safety car. Hamilton was the last car to pit among the front runners prior to the yellow, while Russell gained a few spots by being able to pit under the caution. Hamilton was able to keep close to Sergio Perez in fourth, then in third after Max Verstappen dropped out due to a battery power. When Perez then dropped out with his own battery problem, that gave Hamilton just enough for his record 183rd podium.
“It was such a difficult race, we struggled throughout practice,” Hamilton said following the race in parc fermé to F1 Media. “This was the best result we could have got … I know the guys are working really hard at the factory and this is not going to be a quick turnaround. I feel like we’ve been the best unified team for so long, we all know to just keep your head down and keep working. It’s a long long way to go.”
Russell was able to follow Hamilton to fourth. One concerning thing for the German automaker going forward is that the two works cars were the only Mercedes powered cars in the top 11, with the final six cars that finished the race being Mercedes powered, all of whom were a lap down prior to the safety car. But even with that being said, the two works cars were still good enough to take advantage of Red Bull’s woes to get a surprising result.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).
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