Lewis Hamilton finds himself in a position that he has only found himself in a handful of times during his F1 career.

The Mercedes W13 is currently unable to challenge for race victories as the team saw both of its cars knocked out in Q2 for the first time since the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.

While teammate George Russell enjoyed a remarkable recovery to fourth on race day, Alfa  Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was able to close a 12-second gap and challenge the British driver at the end of the race, highlighting how slow Mercedes was at Imola.

Hamilton has likened the W13 to McLaren’s MP4-24 from 2009, which struggled considerably during the first half of that season.

“There are people that watch and say that I've never had a bad car and I can assure you I have,” Hamilton explained after the sprint at Imola on Saturday. “The 2009 car was very, very far off, and was the worst car that I've had. 

“This car currently is not far off that experience, but I think has a lot of potential. As did that car, we fixed it eventually and got back in the fight, or in the game. And I have the utmost faith that my team can do that here too.”

How bad was the 2009 McLaren?

With McLaren understandably focusing on its 2008 title fight with Ferrari, the entirely new technical regulations for the following year put the Woking outfit on the back foot.

McLaren was left behind when Toyota, Williams and most notably, Brawn GP, designed a ‘double diffuser’ which was ultimately the reason that Jenson Button won six of the opening seven grands prix, putting him in position to win his maiden F1 crown.

Without it, Hamilton’s best result in the opening part of the season was a fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

However, that was the summit of its success with a run of five point-less races for Hamilton.

McLaren’s shocking form in 2009 led to an angry Hamilton over team radio at the 2009 Turkish Grand Prix, where he ultimately finished 13th.

“It’s embarrassing,” Hamilton said. “I can’t even keep up with the frickin’ Renault in front of me. My tyres have gone off, I am heavier than a frickin’ boat. Guys, you need to build a new car. We need a new car to be able to win these races.”

The good news for Hamilton is that McLaren did manage to turn it around with a significant upgrade before the summer break in Hungary.

He went on to take two victories with three further podium finishes to propel himself up to fifth in the championship behind the Brawns and Red Bulls.

There’s no doubt that for the first half of 2009, the McLaren remains the worst car in Hamilton’s great F1 career but how does the Mercedes W13 compare?

Mercedes W13 (2022)

At present, the Mercedes W13 is amongst Hamilton’s worst F1 cars after he was lapped en route to 13th place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

It means Hamilton has endured his second-worst start to an F1 season, with only 2009 being poorer.

Points adjusted (In 2009, the points system was: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), Hamilton scored 23 points in the opening four races, while in 2022, he has 28 to his name.

Without his disqualification from the 2009 Australian GP, after he and McLaren misled the stewards, this year would in fact be his worst start to a year to date.

While the W13 has been tricky to drive, Hamilton showed signs of his best form in the season-opening Bahrain GP, while he was unfortunate to miss out on the podium in Australia after losing out under the Virtual Safety Car. 

Porpoising remains at the core of the W13’s problems but there have been questions over whether the no sidepod concept design is actually the right choice.

Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff remain confident that there’s potential in Mercedes’ current challenger, but how long will it take to turn it around?

The seven-time F1 champion has won a grand prix in every single season he has competed in.

Will he be able to keep that up in 2022?

Mercedes W04 (2013)

Hamilton’s first Mercedes car is amongst the worst (relatively speaking) of his F1 career.

While the W04 was able to win three races (Hamilton winning once; Nico Rosberg twice), it was no match for the dominant Red Bull which won 13 races in the hands of Sebastian Vettel.

During the early part of the season, the W04 chewed up its tyres for fun as Mercedes went from locking out the front row at the Spanish Grand Prix to finishing eighth and 12th - a race where Hamilton was lapped.

After Mercedes’ controversial tyre test, its race performances improved as Hamilton secured fourth in the championship with one victory and five podiums overall.

McLaren MP4-27 (2012)

Fast but fragile - that would sum up McLaren’s MP4-27 for 2012 which would end up being Hamilton’s final year with the team. 

The 2012 season is often remembered for Fernando Alonso’s near-perfect season and his title battle with Sebastian Vettel, but it was a missed opportunity for Hamilton and McLaren.

Despite on balance having the quicker car, a combination of operational mistakes - most notably pit stops - and poor reliability cost Hamilton a serious shot at a second title.

While outright performance is necessary for any good racing car, strong reliability is what’s crucial in championship battles.

Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying in Barcelona due to a fuel irregularity and while leading in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, he was forced to retire due to reliability gremlins.

A quick car doesn’t mean a good car hence why the MP4-27 makes our list.