Hamilton finished a lowly 13th in a wet-dry Emilia Romagna Grand Prix during a miserable afternoon that was compounded when he was lapped by race-winner Max Verstappen

It marked the latest dire performance from Hamilton amid Mercedes’ struggles to fix its troubled W13 challenger. 

After the race, Mercedes team principal Wolff came on the radio to apologise to the seven-time world champion for failing to provide him with a competitive car. 

“Hi Lewis, sorry for what you have needed to drive today,” Wolff said. “I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result. 

“We move from there, but this was a terrible race."

A despondent Hamilton replied: “Yeah, no worries, Toto. Just keep on working hard.”

Wolff responded: “Yeah, we will come out of this.”

Speaking to Sky, Wolff admitted that Mercedes have let Hamilton down. 

“We saw, with George, how the car can drive in free air,” he added. “But we are not good enough for a world champion. Not worthy. 

“We need to fix the car. I said sorry for the car that he needs to drive. We are going to look at things for Miami - we can make a step in the understanding of the car.” 

The result means Hamilton has fallen to seventh in the championship standings, 58 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc

“A weekend to forget,” Hamilton conceded. “I am out of the championship, for sure. There is no question about that. But I’ll keep working hard to put it back together somehow.” 

Russell backs Hamilton to recover 

In contrast to Hamilton’s struggles, George Russell held off the late-charging Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages to seal an impressive fourth place. 

The Briton capitalised on the opening-lap chaos to move himself up to sixth from 11th on the grid, before passing Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and inheriting a further position when Leclerc spun out of third late on. 

Russell is now 21 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship after the opening four rounds but backed his teammate to bounce back strongly from his worst-ever start to an F1 season. 

“The car is out of the window and it is so difficult to be consistent,” Russell said. “Lewis has the pace, he is incredibly fast. 

“It is tricky for us to get it done. The tyres haven’t been in the right window. The car isn’t its true self. 

“Lewis has been massively fast, there was a blip this weekend, but he will come back stronger. The way he motivates the team is inspiring. He wants more.”