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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton backed to recover from 'embarrassing' Imola moment

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, John Watson shares his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton's challenging start to the season, and where he goes from here.

Hamilton Imola
To news overview © Mercedes

Former F1 driver John Watson expects Lewis Hamilton to demonstrate that he is "the man we know" as soon as Mercedes are able to return to competitive ways.

Hamilton endured a particularly tough weekend at Imola, where he dropped out in Q2 and failed to score a point in either the Sprint or the main Grand Prix.

In the closing stages of Sunday's race, Max Verstappen - having beaten Hamilton to the 2021 F1 crown - managed to put a lap on the seven-time World Champion, a moment that Watson has described as "embarrassing" and "painful".

A low point for Hamilton and Mercedes

Watson reckons the pain of the moment will no doubt have been added to by the way in which last year's title fight was settled.

"At the minute, Mercedes are nowhere near at the races, and it was embarrassing to see Lewis lapped by Max," five-time Grand Prix winner Watson told RacingNews365.com.

"That must have given Max enormous self-satisfaction, and the pain, I can imagine, that Lewis would have had to deal with, knowing he's going to be blue-flagged, to let the guy that turned out to be World Champion...

"It must rancor with Lewis, to be in the situation that he's in, having been denied - because of, in my view, bad judgments in Abu Dhabi - that eighth championship, and I think there is also a legacy of that still with Lewis.

"It's made worse by the fact that Mercedes has not got a competitive car that is currently capable of challenging for the championship, [or] being as dominant as it has been over the previous seven seasons."

Some light at the end of the tunnel?

Nonetheless, Watson suggested that Mercedes might soon find themselves in the battle with pace-setters Ferrari and Red Bull, should the team's planned Miami upgrades work out.

If and when they manage to make that step forward, he has backed Hamilton to be on top form.

"There may be a magic bullet somewhere, in terms of [where] the car was in Imola, to where we'll be in Miami. It may be a simple fix or it may be a much more complex fix," Watson added.

"Once they do get to that position where they are competitive with Ferrari and Red Bull, then you will see Lewis, the man we know from previous seasons."

Harsh comments from the Red Bull camp

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko took a dig at Hamilton following the Emilia Romagna event by suggesting that the Briton might be thinking "he should have stopped last year".

This was followed up by comments from Jos Verstappen, who said he "enjoyed" watching son Max lap Hamilton.

Offering his thoughts on the remarks heading Hamilton's way, Watson said: "To use a cricket analogy, they're sledging him.

"All they're doing is just adding more discomfort to Mercedes and primarily Lewis. It's part of the game.

"It doesn't need to be maybe as blatant, because sometimes it reflects worse on you than it does on the person that you're doing it to, so it's a balance of what you say.

"You can make your point, but you don't have to overegg it."

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