Lewis Hamilton will find a way to “grind a result” which could keep him in the title fight, according to Mark Webber. The former Red Bull man fired a warning to his old team and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, claiming Hamilton is “not going anywhere”.
Mercedes have had a tough start to the new season with the car at best third-fastest on the road. However, the team have benefited from Red Bull’s mechanical woes to score consistently strong points finishes.
Hamilton has now scored two top-four finishes this season and points at every race. Team-mate George Russell has finished in the top five three times with Mercedes the top scorers among any manufacturer in Melbourne.
Although Ferrari look to be running away with the crown, Red Bull’s mechanical issues have cost them dearly. Verstappen has thrown away at least 36 points from two retirements this season to put him below Hamilton in the standings.
The Dutchman is currently down in sixth, three points behind Hamilton despite already winning this season in Saudi Arabia. Webber said: “That’s what champions do, don’t they. Champions will find a way to grind a result out, which I was completely incapable of doing.
“He can do that, he can grind a result when the car’s not there. The safety car worked against him as well with that strategy because that’s how George jumped him. But Hamilton’s not going anywhere in a hurry, the guy knows how to operate.”
The Silver Arrows have openly admitted they are in damage limitation mode for the time being until they get a handle on their problems.
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, added: “At this stage of the championship, we’re focused on just two things, damage limitation and learning.”
Russell claimed he was shocked when told he was second in the points standings after the first three races. But, with both Mercedes so far finishing every race this season, he stressed how important reliability could be for the rest of 2022.
He explained: “It doesn’t matter how fast the car is, if you don’t make it to the end then you are not there to pick up the pieces It is a championship based on results not pace. But we know if we want to keep that position, we need to find more performance in the car.”