Monza has been a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton but this year’s Italian Grand Prix could be a painful experience as he is set for a grid penalty and is not sure what the troublesome Mercedes W13 has in store for Monza, or anywhere else for that matter!
Hamilton has won a race in every season he’s been in the top flight, a record 103 Grand Prix victories show on his resume, a run that began at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, but that might end if Mercedes form is anything to go by.
This year it could well happen that he does not win a race which would bring to an end that unprecedented run but it is not high on Hamilton’s radar, he told reporters ahead of the 2022 Italian Grand Prix: “Honestly, it has zero importance to me. I’m grateful that each year, we have had since 2007 an opportunity to win.
“I do believe that I have the chance this year, we’ve still got seven races to go, and that’s still a really big goal for us as a team to get back to the front and be fighting for the lead.
“I’m not focused on the record, but of course I’m trying to get that win this year but the record is not that important for me because I don’t really care about records in general,” Hamilton ascertained.
Zandvoort they were better than most expected, in qualifying they were pole and race contenders too, until they weren’t because of strange incidents on their final runs and during the final stages of the Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
Mercedes are playing down their chances ahead of the Italian Grand Prix
However, Zandvoort and Monza are different altogether, the Temple of Speed in Italy more reminiscent to Spa-Francorchamps where Mercedes struggled.
Humbled no doubt by pre-Spa bravado, the soon-to-be-deposed (by runaway Red Bull) F1 World Champions are thus playing down their chances ahead of this weekend.
Last year Hamilton might have won, but the infamous collision between him and Verstappen scuppered that while intensifying a rather tosic title duel here last year; recall how the Red Bull landed on top of the Mercedes as they negotiated the Turn 1 chicane.
Nevertheless, the Briton has won at Monza five times, tied with F1 legend Michael Schumacher, another win will make him the all-time winningest driver at the venue, but it will be a tough one this year as he has no idea where they will be strong and where it won’t so strong.
Mercedes talked up their post-summerbreak pace ahead of Spa-Francorchamps, confident their W13 would have good speed for Hamilton and teammate George Russell around the high-speed Belgian Grand Prix venue but, compared to Red Bull, they were nowhere, and totally mystified by why they were so bad. Suggesting a car that is not understood by the once serial winners of F1.
Hamilton: I have no idea where our car’s going to be great
“It was a surprise when we got into the car last week (Zandvoort) and the car felt so much better, like completely different, to the previous weekend (Spa) but I’m hoping more often than not it feels like Budapest or the last race, for the rest of the races,” added Hamilton.
Adding to his load at Monza is the fact that he will take a Power Unit penalty, likely to send him to the back of the grid: “I fell as good as I can feel. Of course, you’d always feel better if you came off a win.
“Still, we’ve been making so much progress as a team, we’ve closed the gap more and more – at least we’re closing the gap more and more – weekend after weekend. Of course, we don’t know how the car will be this weekend, whether or not it will be as good as it was in the last race, we’ll find out.
“My third engine that I had, brand new, in Spa, is still being worked on, so I can’t use it right now, so I have to take a fourth. That’s my doing.
“We’re still hopeful we can use that later on. But I have to recover the best I can from the back,” Hamilton taking the blame, of course, with his first lap crash with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in Belgium.
Asked if Mercedes would be better at Monza than they were two Sundays ago: “It can’t be worse than Spa, I don’t think! No, I think it will be a lot better here,” replied Hamilton. (Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)
2022 F1 World Championship Standings ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Round 16: