Lewis Hamilton fears his Mercedes car is going to ‘bounce’ for the rest of the year in another bleak prediction for the team which could ironically impact Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull. The Briton has painted a grim picture of how their final five races of the season could turn out after receiving feedback from his engineers about the car’s performance at upcoming races in North America, South America and the Middle East.
The seven-time world champion, who has won 103 races in his career but is without a victory since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December 2021, doesn’t see their issues on the track ending anytime soon as bumpy surfaces are set to cause issues for his car.
And that is likely to impact the 38-year-old in his efforts to finish behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.
“This car is going to bounce for the rest of the year,” Hamilton told reporters. “But I feel optimistic for next year that it won’t be a characteristic on the car. It comes and goes – some races it isn’t bouncing and some races it is. But it is nowhere near as hardcore as when we had it [last year].”
Hamilton’s comment speaks volumes about the ongoing issues Mercedes have faced with their car and the issue of bouncing since the new regulations were brought in back in 2022. The team worked extensively to fix the issue during the 2022 season after porpoising wrecked their chances of competing with Red Bull early in the season.
It could prove to be a topic of embarrassment for Perez as well if the Mexican’s struggles continue. The 34-year-old is currently 30 points clear of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship with five races to go and his error-strewn display in Qatar – racking up 15 seconds of penalties from the stewards – suggested his form is declining at a worrying rate.
He is facing intense scrutiny over his position for next season, having reportedly received an ultimatum from the team to improve his performances towards the end of the year. And if he is beaten by Hamilton to second in the Championship while the Silver Arrows are experiencing issues with their cars, it may well be the final nail in the coffin for Perez.
Perez has been told he has five races to save his Red Bull career after being handed an ultimatum to finish at least second in each of the last five races of the season or face being replaced by reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo for 2024.
Armed with the best car on the grid, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for Perez – but his pace has been way off Verstappen’s in the second half of the season after collecting wins in Miami and Baku.
Hamilton will be determined to put things right at the United States Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday after his collision with team-mate George Russell forced him to retire from a race for the first time this season. And if he outscores Perez this weekend, it could push the six-time racer winner closer to the sack.