POLE POSITION: The resentment will only fester if Lewis Hamilton clings on at Mercedes - it's too late for him to regain the status he craves

The only way out for Hamilton? Taking the rest of the season off

I’ve seen worse body language from a driver sitting in his own motor home, but not since 2007 when Fernando Alonso, in the press conference following a squabble with his then McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Hungary, moodily chomped his way through a pear.

But, still, Hamilton’s demeanour this week – monosyllabic and making a few jibes at George Russell – was the inevitable consequence from the moment he told Mercedes he would be with them for life and then dropped the bombshell he was actually decamping to Ferrari next year.

It was never going to end well. Mercedes would feel scorned; Hamilton would succumb to his natural inclination for paranoia; Russell’s abilities would present themselves (he has outqualified the seven-time world champion 8-1, a mighty feather to wear in his cap). These factors lay behind the awkwardness exhibited here only nine races down. And the only way out of it is for Hamilton to take the rest of the season off. Otherwise, the resentment will fester.

Another layer of resentment is the correspondence sent in emails and a WhatsApp following the last round in Canada, claiming to be written by a Mercedes staffer, arguing that Russell is being dramatically favoured. ‘Sabotage’ was a word used. I cannot see it, though a Hamilton backer has told me directly he thinks it is.

What is more likely is that because Hamilton decided to fly the nest, and embarrassed Wolff in doing so, adds weight to Russell’s cause. He is the man staying, part of Mercedes’ future, not of their past.

Lewis Hamilton's demeanour this week and jibes at George Russell were inevitable from the moment he said he would leave

Lewis Hamilton's demeanour this week and jibes at George Russell were inevitable from the moment he said he would leave

Mercedes have contacted the police over an anonymous email accusing them of 'sabotaging' Lewis Hamilton because of the seven-time champion's decision to switch to Ferrari

Mercedes have contacted the police over an anonymous email accusing them of 'sabotaging' Lewis Hamilton because of the seven-time champion's decision to switch to Ferrari

Russell has outqualified Hamilton 8-1 and things are becoming increasingly awkward

Russell has outqualified Hamilton 8-1 and things are becoming increasingly awkward

The only way out for Hamilton is to take the rest of the season off - or resentment will fester

The only way out for Hamilton is to take the rest of the season off - or resentment will fester

It is hardly Russell’s fault if this is so. He is driving superbly well, even if he pushed himself slightly over the limit in a valiant effort in Canada (where he passed Hamilton for third place at the death – ouch). George has clearly seen the merit in keeping Wolff close, a fact Hamilton has previously sniped at.

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Mercedes call in the police over anonymous email accusing them of 'SABOTAGING' Lewis Hamilton

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Russell has also had to overcome having started the season in a car created with more of Hamilton’s input than his own, for then the seven-time world champion was still due to stay at Mercedes as their GOAT. As a team member told me: ‘It set us back a year. Lewis is not a designer, yet it was all done to his specification.’

That balance has naturally shifted. Lewis is no longer shown the Fort Knox deference he once was.

Hamilton, I believe, should either voice for himself the sentiments his supporter(s) say in the email and text – or condemn them outright, whether the sender is from within Mercedes, within his circle or from a random fan. Yes, he said in the tetchy press conference: ‘We need support, not negativity,’ adding rather implausibly that he was not aware ‘George was experiencing negativity.’ But he added: ‘Of course, things can always be done better in the team,’ which sounded a faint echo of the far more strongly worded email.

What Lewis wants back is his old position of pre-eminence. But, Ferrari-bound, it’s too late for that.

 

What was that crashing by my feet? Part of the turnstile on the way into the press centre at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya – a place so run down it is lucky to be in modern Formula One.

As well as facilities unsuited to hosting a world class sports event, it usually serves up a dirge of a race.

The Circuit de Catalunya is lucky to be in F1 - it's unsuitable and serves up a dirge of a race

The Circuit de Catalunya is lucky to be in F1 - it's unsuitable and serves up a dirge of a race

There are stepladders hanging around like a trap on the stairs, adding to its of unkemptness. Overall, the place (as with some other European tracks) is stuck in the 1990s, and the sooner the race’s Spanish home moves to Madrid in 2026 the better.

One race in Spain is enough with other countries inquiring about staging new grands prix beating a path to Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali’s door.

 

Lewis Hamilton urged Silverstone’s bosses to lower ticket prices from their starting rate for three days of £339. I guess it’s the going rate if something of a gulp for a family of four. Still, a combined 480,000 attendance was reported last year.

In fairness, Silverstone has improved its facilities over the last few years. Roads in and out are as well-ordered as any in the world. As well as shrewd use of lanes at key moments, Silverstone have encouraged more people to camp, thus reducing the daily inflow of traffic.

Hamilton has urged Silverstone bosses to lower prices, but his calls came with irony

Hamilton has urged Silverstone bosses to lower prices, but his calls came with irony

Flavio Briatore is the new adviser to Alpine... but he was once banned from F1 for life!

Flavio Briatore is the new adviser to Alpine... but he was once banned from F1 for life!

While Hamilton may have a point there was an irony in that his massive wages of some £50million-plus, the result of his deeds as a brilliant driver and keen negotiator, are derived from within the same ecosystem as Silverstone. The public pay; Silverstone pay F1; F1 pay the teams; the teams pay Hamilton et al.

 

Flavio Briatore is the new adviser to Alpine. That couldn’t be the same Flavio Briatore who was once banned from the sport for life, could it?

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