Mercedes battle reminds Hamilton of 2009 McLaren
By Mat Coch
Sunday 7th August, 2022 - 2:01pm
Lewis Hamilton has drawn parallels between the 2022 Formula 1 season and his troubled 2009 campaign.
Mercedes was caught on the back foot when it started the current season, as Red Bull and Ferrari gained the advantage under the latest aerodynamic regulations.
However, the team which has won the last eight constructors’ championships in succession has shown signs of recovery, with both Hamilton and team-mate George Russell becoming regular podium performers in recent races.
It’s drawn comparison to McLaren’s start to the 2009 season, which saw Brawn and Jenson Button dominate the opening rounds.
McLaren mustered just four points finishes between its two cars, with Hamilton only winning for the first time that season at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I remember it very clearly, 2009,” the seven-time world champion said.
“I remember so many elements of it. I remember arriving in February, or January I think, it was coming back from winter training.
“I remember walking along, or being in a meeting with the guys, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve already hit our our downforce target.’
“I remember back then they said that, from their interpretation, it was 50 percent less downforce as the previous year, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve already hit our targets’.
“And I remember being ‘Wow, really? That means you’ve probably not set it high enough.’
“I remember getting in the car at Portimao, I think it was, and it was horrendous to drive, it was the worst car that I’d driven.
“The engine was good, but I was three-wheeling everywhere; the wheel was coming up massively,” he added.
“So I remember the struggles of that year, qualifying I think 15th or whatever it was, and then just continuously chipping away.”
The similarities don’t stop there, with an upgrade midway through the season helping to turn McLaren’s fortunes around.
This year, Mercedes has introduced a number of revisions, and while none has proven the silver bullet, they have all moved the needle for the Brackley operation.
“I remember getting a big upgrade at Nurburgring. They only had one kit, so because I was ahead in points, I think it was, I got the upgrade.
“And I remember going through Turn 6 and 7, it’s the first time we could take it flat, and I remember [I] had accidentally had the radio on, and I made like this ‘woohoo’ kind of noise.
“They’ve played it back to the guys in the factory, and then we go our first win in Budapest.”
Over a decade later, Hamilton sees the similarities between his plight that season and the battle ahead of him in the remainder of this year’s campaign.
“This year, start of the season very, very similar,” he said.
“When we were in February, sitting down in the room, it looked glorious, we’d got a lot of performance on the car.
“[There was] a lot of confidence, like ‘Yeah, the car’s going to be good,’ and then you get in [and] the thing was bouncing.
“And it’s taken us a long time to fix that, taken a lot of performance off that car to enable it to stop bouncing.
“We’re not giving up, we’re staying pedal to the metal,” he concluded.
Hamilton sits sixth the drivers’ championship, just 10 points down on Carlos Sainz and 12 on team-mate Russell.
The Brit has finished on the podium for the last five races in succession, with three thirds and then second at France and Hungary in his two most recent starts.
Formula 1 is currently on its summer break, returning on August 26-28 with the Belgian Grand Prix.