We've got to give Lew a winning car! Mercedes under pressure to deliver for new star Hamilton after Schuey's failure
12:50 GMT, 19 December 2012
Mercedes have conceded they are under even more pressure to produce a winning car for Lewis Hamilton than they were during Michael Schumacher's three-year stint with the team.
Seven-time world champion Schumacher was persuaded out of retirement in 2010 with the promise he could add to his drivers' championship tally if he signed for Mercedes.
But by the time Schumacher decided to bow out of Formula One for a second time at the end of last season he had failed to win a single race, his best result being third at Valencia's European Grand Prix.
Having been incapable of providing
Schumacher with a car capable of victory in the twilight of his career,
Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry admitted the pressure to ensure
history is not repeated with Hamilton, a driver at the peak of his
powers, is enormous.
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'We've had probably one of the greatest drivers of all time driving for us, who was clearly in age terms reaching the later part of his career when he arrived with us,' said Fry in an interview with Autosport.
'In order to do well in Formula 1, you've got to do well in every respect. You've got to have the best technology, you've got to have the best teamwork, you've got to have the best management and you have to have the best drivers. (Hamilton's) arrival is very exciting for the team and also puts a lot of pressure on because Ross (Brawn) has to provide him with a very good car.
'He can't win with a car which is duff. He can win with a car that is not quite the best, but the competition is such that you can't bridge a huge gap.'
Many believe that cutting the gap to the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Hamilton's former team McLaren will be nigh on impossible for Mercedes in the coming campaign. Indeed, their lack of success last week prompted a parting of the ways with long-time head of motorsport Norbert Haug.
But Fry insisted Mercedes has sent out a strong message to the rest of the grid regarding their ambition to put things right by capturing Hamilton, a driver who he ranks alongside Ferrari's Fernando Alonso as the best in the world.
Fry added: 'Certainly in my view, Lewis and Fernando Alonso are the two best drivers. Fernando this year, when the Ferrari has not been the best car by any stretch of the imagination, has still done an exceptional job.
'And I think Lewis is still in that category of being a driver you could give not quite the best car and he could still win races, whereas most of the other drivers in the Formula 1 field will probably win the race if you give them the best car.'
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Fry claimed that having had the benefit of the fastest car on the grid during his three championship winning campaigns, it is impossible to judge whether Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is in the same class as Hamilton and Alonso.
Vettel, no short of self-confidence, would doubtless disagree. And the Red Bull star has revealed he was equally confident he would not be stripped of this most recent title as Ferrari asked for clarification over an overtaking manoeuvre during last month's season finale in Brazil.
Addressing the speculation he had illegally passed Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne under yellow flag conditions while beating Alonso to the title by three points, Vettel told the official Formula 1 website: 'To be honest, I never wasted one single thought that an irregularity was involved from my side.
'Even if it was an eventful race I definitely saw all the flags – and their colours! I only got information that Ferrari was up to something after Christian (Horner) called me saying that obviously Ferrari was not too happy with the outcome of the race.
'After the FIA had checked every single inch of the recording of the situation in question – and confirmed that everything was according to rules – Ferrari renounced any protests. But believe it or not I knew since the chequered flag that there was not a single movement wrong from my side.'