Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s contrasting Mercedes fortunes in Imola analysed

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell may have ‘split the test programme’ and run completely different cars in races this season, according to Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen. The former Audi star claimed Hamilton might be taking on ‘bigger changes’ to help the team find a direction.

The theory could explain why Hamilton was so far behind team-mate George Russell in Imola. The seven-time champion could only manage 13th on Sunday after he was stuck in a midfield DRS train.

However, Russell shot off at the start to claim fifth in the opening laps and benefited from Charles Leclerc’s late spin to clinch fourth. But, Kristensen claims Hamilton might be able to give the team the feedback it needs and has decided to take on bigger tasks to find a solution to their performance issues.

He explained: “I think they split the test programme. In that sense, Lewis is taking on bigger changes on the car trying to find a direction.

“They clearly have no direction, they haven’t found that. They haven’t found the direction with the car to develop it. If you have the bouncing, porpoising thing, that’s a car running incredibly stiff.

“They are solving an issue in which they think they drop a lot of performance.”

He added: “The changes they do, I’m sure Lewis will give the feedback. On the other hand, George Russell, young, handsome, incredibly strong, he’s coming in trying to establish himself.

“Lewis is trying to be an eight-time world champion, that’s running out of their hands.

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“With George you have someone coming in, he’s probably relatively quiet, giving good feedback and obviously accepting to get on with something which is in a way not entirely acceptable.” Mercedes confirmed there was a ‘slight difference’ between both Hamilton and Russell’s set-ups for the race.

After the race, Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton for the poor pace of the Silver Arrows, despite Russell almost claiming a podium. It suggests Mercedes were doing something different with Hamilton’s car which required an apology to the seven-time champion.

Wolff said: “Sorry for what you had to drive today, I know this is undriveable and not what we deserved to score as a result. So we move from there, but this was a terrible race.” Hamilton also offered his own apology to the team for not being able to do the same as Russell and score points.

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