Toto Wolff has explained that he feels somewhat duty-bound to "protect" Lewis Hamilton, in a bid to help the seven-time World Champion keep his spirits high while the team work hard to overcome their car issues.
With Mercedes taking a clear step backward in 2022 due to their W13 proving difficult over the opening handful of races, Hamilton managed just 13th place at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
George Russell finished fourth in the other Silver Arrows challenger and, following the chequered flag, Wolff could be heard getting on the team radio to apologise to Hamilton for giving him an "undriveable" car.
Wolff: This is Mercedes' low, not Hamilton's
Asked about Hamilton's state of mind after such a tough start to the season, and whether he's experiencing any self-doubts, Wolff said he's doing his best to keep Hamilton's morale up.
"Well, in a way, I have to protect him. It's not his low," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com, after the Imola weekend.
"I think it's the low of the car performance. We know that he's a seven-time World Champion. He caught up last year, him and us as a team. We caught up and nearly fought for the championship, whilst it was actually lost on Saturday of Brazil.
"The guy is the best driver in the world and he's just not having the machine and equipment underneath him to be able to execute..."
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Wolff tips Hamilton to fight back as the season goes on
Given that Russell was able to hustle his W13 home in fourth place, Wolff believes that Hamilton will quickly bounce back and return to his best form.
"To take that, in a way, I think it's even irrelevant whether you come in eighth, 12th, 15th... [it] doesn't matter, it's all bad!" Wolff said.
"But the real stars, they have recovered. Of [all] the really great ones that come into my mind, [they had] certain moments in their career where things didn't run properly and that is the case now with him.
"It's gonna help the team to sort itself out and we're sticking together through good and bad times, and [Imola] certainly was a very bad day."
F1 Podcast: Are Red Bull now favourites and has Hamilton hit a new low?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look back over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Red Bull triumphed, Ferrari hit trouble and Mercedes struggled.