Lewis Hamilton next at Imola with Ferrari after “clutching at straws” woe

“It’s not what we’re used to seeing, Lewis fighting down near the bottom half of the top 10.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL38 in qualifying parc ferme. Formula 1 World
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL38…

Lewis Hamilton’s next race at Imola in front of the Tifosi will be for Ferrari.

It was difficult for many inside the paddock not to begin dreaming of Hamilton wearing the iconic red after a weekend to forget at the F1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton finished sixth - despite a trip into the gravel which cost him five seconds - one place ahead of Mercedes teammate George Russell.

“He will be here as a Ferrari driver,” said Naomi Schiff on Sky Sports afterwards.

“I hope, for him, that the car will be able to fight for victory because it’s been too long since we saw Hamilton on the top step of the podium.

“It’s not what we’re used to seeing, Lewis fighting down near the bottom half of the top 10.”

Mercedes’ difficulties in Italy were compounded by the ongoing competitiveness of McLaren, their customer team, who finished with Lando Norris runner-up and Oscar Piastri fourth.

Damon Hill said about Mercedes: “They’ve been beaten by a customer, as well.

“They are really the last of the top four teams, now. It’s a bit depressing now.

“They are a long way from the rest. But that’s no good.”

Schiff said: “What is most surprising, since this new era of cars, is that they haven’t been able to turn it around like others have.

“Like Aston Martin, like McLaren.

“It is good for them to know that the issue isn’t the engine. It’s the car and how it is performing.

“I don’t know when they can turn it around. They keep trying, they keep having stabs at it, trying things.

“It doesn’t seem to be providing as much of a benefit as the other teams.”

Hill assessed the Imola weekend: “Think back to Friday. Who were the people looking happy, like they’d found something?

“Where were they today? They weren’t at the sharp end with McLaren and Red Bull.

“It seems to me that people are clutching at straws.

“Mercedes - both drivers were happy, Russell said the car was great, James Alisson said ‘we have found progress’.

“But the pace isn’t there. And pace is much more important than whether the car feels good.”

Schiff said: “I do wonder how much of their performance on Friday was due to the weather conditions.

“It was windy. Maybe their car has more stability.

“For whatever reason they performed well in windy conditions, and it hasn’t been the same until now.”

'Whispers' about competitive Mercedes in 2026

Hill suggested that drivers of Hamilton’s calibre could extract more from themselves in a better car - perhaps a sign of things to come, when he races in 2025 for Ferrari.

“There is another X-factor,” Hill said.

“When you’ve got lap time, and it’s only a few tenths off from getting pole position, it raises your game.

“When you know that, even at the very best effort, you will be fourth or eighth? It’s not the same.

“Something kicks in when you get a competitive car. Your mind focuses on that goal of being the quickest. It lifts you, as well.”

The F1 Monaco Grand Prix is next weekend, giving Mercedes another chance to cut the deficit to the trio of teams ahead of them.

What would represent a good result for Toto Wolff’s team this season?

“A good race? Everyone is here to win,” Schiff said.

“I don’t know if it’s possible for them.

“We have seen teams turn it around. We McLaren do it, halfway through the season last year. Everything is still possible.

“I don’t know how much of their focus is going into totally turning this car around.

“In 2026, there are whispers that they will have a competitive package.

“They have to keep working forwards. It’s the only thing they can do. Pushing the development race.”

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