Mercedes appeared to be on a rise after implementing numerous enhancements in Monaco, reflected in their double podium at the Spanish Grand Prix and Hamilton securing another podium spot in Canada.
However, a sudden and concerning regression was seen at Austria just a fortnight later, with Hamilton and his teammate George Russell landing at the eighth and seventh positions respectively.
The unexpected difficulties at the Red Bull Ring were “definitely surprising” for Hamilton, particularly after the recent upturn, as he found his W14 more challenging to maneuver than in the previous two rounds.
“I truly didn’t foresee us struggling as much as we did today,” he admitted.
“I’m at a loss to explain it, really. It’s certainly baffling, but the car felt pretty much the same as it did all of last year, so in that sense, it’s not the most shocking.
“It was noticeably different from the previous two races. The last two races were significantly better than today.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / F1 Flow Images
Adding to Hamilton’s woes were issues with car handling, exacerbated by overcompensating a front wing adjustment meant to stabilize the rear end of the vehicle.
Post-race, he was among several drivers to receive additional penalties, a 10-second one in his case, which resulted in him trailing Russell in the eighth position.
“Recognizing our problematic rear end here, we reduced a lot of front wing to try and maintain balance for a long run.
“But we overdid it to the point that I was nearly at full lock around the final two corners. I was just skidding into Turn 10, with no way to correct it.
“We added a significant amount of wing during the stops and the car slowly started to improve and stay on track.”
Hamilton was the first of many drivers to receive a track limit penalty, as the FIA struggled to handle over 1,200 potential infractions in the final sector.
Aston Martin lodged a protest against the race result due to this issue, leading to substantial revisions over four hours after the race ended.
Hamilton suggested that a new approach was needed for this track.
“The track was much more enjoyable to drive before the track limit issue came into play,” he mused.
“It’s odd to drive and have to critique the car ahead, as the team requests.
“But that’s not what motorsport or racing is about.
“[Lando Norris] was deviating so much, it was wild. As soon as he overtook me, he went off track at least 10 times, as did [Sergio] Perez.
“They should just be allowed to go off track and we should let it slide.”
Russell expresses disappointment over Mercedes’ considerably slower pace in Austria
FIA considered the installation of gravel traps at the Red Bull Ring to mitigate track limits issues
Sainz finding it hard to see the bright side of the Austrian GP outcome
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hamilton’s F1 struggles in Austria
What difficulties did Lewis Hamilton experience during the Austrian F1 race?
Hamilton faced unexpected challenges in the Austrian F1 race, such as problems with car handling and track limit penalties, which led to him finishing in the eighth position.
Why was Hamilton surprised by Mercedes’ performance in Austria?
Hamilton was surprised because, following a series of upgrades implemented in Monaco, Mercedes had been on a positive trajectory, securing several podium places in recent races. The sudden setback in Austria was thus unexpected.
What issues did Hamilton face with his car’s handling?
Hamilton faced issues with his car’s handling, primarily due to overcompensating a front wing adjustment meant to stabilize the rear end of the vehicle. This led to difficulties maintaining control, particularly in Turns 9 and 10.
How did Hamilton respond to his car’s handling problems?
Hamilton said they added a significant amount of wing during the stops, which slowly helped the car to improve and stay on track. He acknowledged they had overdone the front wing adjustment, causing the car to skid uncontrollably.
What was Hamilton’s opinion on the track limit penalties?
Hamilton felt the track was more enjoyable before the track limit issue came into play. He suggested that the drivers should be allowed to go off the track, implying that the strict enforcement of track limits detracts from the spirit of motorsport.