Lewis Hamilton’s ‘psychological strength’ has been questioned as the seven-time champion continues to struggle at Mercedes. Former NASCAR and IndyCar driver Danica Patrick said the Briton’s issue might be a ‘mental’ one as he fails to extract the same performance as new team-mate George Russell.
Hamilton finished 13th in Imola, his second disappointing result of the campaign after his 10th in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Russell bagged solid points for the Silver Arrows in fourth to maintain his record of finishing in the top five in every race this year.
The 24-year-old’s consistency has pushed him into the championship hunt and the rookie lies just 37 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Hamilton has almost half his team-mate’s points and is stuck down in seventh.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Patrick said: “You’ve got to emerge from this hole meaning the speed, where is he going to find it. It’s not like there’s just a couple of bad races it’s just not fast.
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“I’m really curious, I’m curious as to where the speed is. George Russell’s having a pretty decent season, he had a good day. I don’t know are they trying different things with Lewis?
“Are there certain specifications that are different this year that he’s not getting on with. Is it mental? Hearing Nico speak about Toto taking the fault for the situation with Lewis is an interesting perspective.
“There’s a lot of psychological strength that’s needed to endure the pressures of the season. Every single race counts.” Speaking to Sky Sports at the weekend, Rosberg claimed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was not quite telling the truth after he defended Hamilton’s bad result.
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Wolff apologised to Hamilton after the race, calling their car ‘undriveable’. The Austrian also claimed the team didn’t deserve to have a world champion behind the wheel after its poor start to the campaign.
But Rosberg hit back at the comments, claiming Wolff’s support was purely a ‘mental game’ to help Hamilton get back on form. The 2016 champion said: “Here, Toto was playing the mental game which is very smart on his behalf again, taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally.
“Lifting him up and saying that it wasn’t Lewis’ doing, it’s on us. It’s very smart because it’s not quite the truth and let’s not forget that Russell is in P4 with that same car. So Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result this weekend.”