Mercedes' Andrew Shovlin has admitted that Lewis Hamilton has been taken aback and "shocked" by the drop in their Formula 1 performance throughout the 2022 season.
Having narrowly lost the World Championship in 2021 to Max Verstappen, Hamilton was expected to be a major contender for the Drivers' Championship, but with just two races to go, he and Mercedes are still winless.
The W13 design has proved troublesome with porpoising and mechanical bouncing with its high-drag nature holding the team back - with a single design decision made in October 2021, thought to relate to the floor, being the root cause of the slump in performance and results.
Hamilton's record of winning at least one race in every season he's competed in during his F1 career is now at risk, with trackside engineering director Shovlin admitting that the lack of performance had stunned the seven-time champion.
Shovlin on Hamilton's shock
Throughout the early portion of the season, Hamilton's form fluctuated as Mercedes attempted to come to terms with the W13.
Shovlin paid tribute to Hamilton's work ethic in trying to return the team to the front of the grid.
"Lewis is always working hard, is super motivated and desperate to try to win," Shovlin told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"Going from the competitive position that we've had in the preceding years to a really difficult car at the start of the year was a bit of a shock for him.
"It was also a bit of an adjustment for us to get used to working and effectively racing in the mid-pack for a lot of the early part of the year.
"We were having to make a lot of compromises with the car to try and get the best out of it - and then learning at the same time."
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Pushing in the right direction
Restoring Mercedes to race wins and title contention is probably the last big challenge of Hamilton's career, although he has signalled his intention to stay on beyond the age of 40, something he had previously ruled out.
Shovlin believes Hamilton's commitment has also been a boost for the team.
"The same as us as a team, Lewis can see that we're definitely going in the right direction," he said.
"We can see a clear route to getting back to a point where we can challenge for Pole Positions and wins.
"With Lewis' commitment to the team, that's increasing the closer we get [to that target], and his commitment to putting in the work on his side to try and help achieve those goals [is also increasing]."
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