Lewis Hamilton gives up on F1 title as Mercedes’ misery continues in dire Imola sprint

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Lewis Hamilton believes his chances of securing an eighth F1 crown has gone as Mercedes problems worsened at Imola. The Briton claimed the team as ‘obviously not fighting for the championship’ as they failed to reach the top 10 during Saturday’s sprint race.

He said: “Ultimately, we haven’t got it right this year but everyone is working as hard as they can to correct it. This is the situation that we are faced with but everyone has their heads down and everyone is working as hard as they can.

“We’re obviously not fighting for this championship but we’re fighting to understand the car and progress through the year.” The seven-time champion started the race 13th after he was knocked out of Q2 yesterday afternoon. 

However, he lost a spot during the race on Saturday and was then stuck behind a train of cars for the rest of the afternoon. His team-mate George Russell was only 11th, finishing in the same spot he started.

The result means Hamilton will start Sunday’s race from outside the top 10 for the second time this season after he was knocked out of Q1 in Saudi Arabia. This could have been repeated yesterday with Hamilton only scraping through 15th in the first qualifying session. 

Both cars were then knocked out in Q2 after a red flag for Carlos Sainz’s crash prevented them having a second run. There was some hope the team had found a small solution after Russell topped the timesheets in FP2 this morning. 

Mercedes has struggled for pace so far this season as the team continue to battle their porpoising issues. Only minor upgrades were introduced for the race in Imola with more substantial changes expected for the Spanish Grand Prix.

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The Saturday sprint race was eventually won by Max Verstappen after a thrilling race with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The reigning champion was passed by the Ferrari star off the line but the Dutchman saved his tyres to reel him in towards the end. 

Verstappen passed Leclerc with just two laps remaining and held on to take the win. 

He said: “”Yeah the start was really bad, I don’t know why, maybe too much wheelspin. I think Charles ran out of tyres, today it worked out for us to be on this compound but I don’t know about tomorrow. I’m of course happy about today, but tomorrow might be a bit different.”

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