Mercedes have been warned about a "very angry" Lewis Hamilton by the last teammate to beat him in an F1 season.
Hamilton, 37, is currently enduring a torrid start to the 2022 campaign, languishing down on seventh place on just 28 points. He managed a third-placed podium finish at the opening race in Bahrain, but then was eliminated in Q1 in Saudi Arabia a week later.
He eventually finished 10th in the Grand prix for a solitary point, before coming in fifth in Australia. The event in Emilia Romagna proved his worst yet, exiting in Q2 before finishing outside the points in 13th – his misery compounded by being lapped by race winner Max Verstappen.
The struggles of the seven-time champion have been made more mystifying by the fact that Russell, 24, has found a level of consistency. He's achieved four consecutive top-five finishes to lie fourth in the championship on 49 points – 21 clear of Hamilton.
And now Nico Rosberg, who beat the F1 icon to the title in 2016 has claimed that Hamilton will be hating the situation. The pair famously went head-to-head when at the Silver Arrows, teaming up in 2013 fighting out for the championship in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
It was the British driver who won the first two of those battles, before his German teammate prevailed for his maiden title win. Following that triumph, he shocked the support by announcing his impromptu retirement.
"It’s definitely a very tough situation for Lewis," Rosberg, now an F1 pundit, told Sky Sports . "He’s won a race in every season of his career and it looks like maybe this will be the year when he can’t win anymore. You can see how the tension is rising and that’s natural."
Rosberg, 36, did back Hamilton to use his experience in order to keep his emotions in check, but said being behind Russell ever since the Grand Prix in Bahrain would be affecting him: "Let’s not forget also Lewis hates ending up behind his team-mate," he added.
“Even if you’re 11th or 13th he really passionately hates coming in behind his team-mate. It makes him very angry. That also happened at Imola in qualifying and the sprint race."
The next opportunity for Hamilton, and Mercedes, to address their issues comes this weekend at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. Regardless, he's already publicly written off any chance of challenging for the world title.
Indeed, after the Emilia Romagna debacle, he received a radio apology from Toto Wolff, who labelled his car "undriveable." That followed an apparent row between the pair after qualifying.
But Rosberg thinks Hamilton will be working overtime to overhaul Russell: "It will put the tension up a lot, especially in the engineering room where Lewis will be pushing harder and harder," he added. "It will be interesting to watch how that unfolds.”
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