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No uneven playing field for Hamilton, Wolff assures

No uneven playing field for Hamilton, Wolff assures
© Reuters
With Lewis Hamilton's comments in Monaco still sparking interest, team principal Toto Wolff explains that it's understandable for the Ferrari-bound driver to feel "sceptical" about his current situation at Mercedes.

With Lewis Hamilton's comments in Monaco still sparking interest, team principal Toto Wolff explains that it's understandable for the Ferrari-bound driver to feel "sceptical" about his current situation at Mercedes.

Hamilton, 39, drew attention in Monaco by stating his car "automatically" loses two-tenths of a second to teammate George Russell as they approach qualifying.

"I don't anticipate being ahead of George this year in qualifying," he admitted.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Hamilton is experiencing "a bit of a crisis" in his final year at Mercedes, with Russell leading 7-1 in the qualifying battle and holding a 12-point lead in the driver standings.

The British driver implied that part of his deficit in Monaco stemmed from Russell having the only version of a new-specification front wing.

"I hope I get the wing in Montreal," Hamilton remarked last weekend.

However, Russell told Channel 4 that Hamilton had actually declined the chance to use the new wing last weekend.

"It was agreed that we'd do a coin toss and see who got it," he explained. "Lewis said he'd tried it on the sim and was happy for me to use it this weekend, because it doesn't go without risk.

"If we made a mistake in qualifying and damaged it, obviously that's one front wing that we won't ever be able to use again and you'd have to start from the pitlane. I was happy to take that risk and I thought it was a belated birthday present he gave me," Russell smiled.

Wolff downplayed the significance of Hamilton's performance gap to his teammate so far in 2024.

"It's just statistics," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "There is no particular reason for it."

Wolff admits that managing the final season of Mercedes' long and fruitful partnership with Hamilton can be challenging at times.

"We are trying to make the most of the relationship and maximise results in this final season together," he told formel1.de. "Of course, relationships between drivers can sometimes be tense because everyone wants to do their best."

Regarding any insinuation that Hamilton feels disadvantaged, the Austrian explained to F1's official website: "All drivers are a bit sceptical at times.

"I can understand as a driver, you want the best out of yourself and the team, and sometimes when it's going against you, you can question it. But I think as a team, we've demonstrated that even in the most tense competitions between teammates, we are trying to always balance it right and be transparent and fair.

As a team we are 100 percent on a mission of giving the two drivers two great cars, the best possible cars, and the best possible strategies and support."

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George Russell at the Abu Dhabi GP on November 26, 2023
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