Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton felt “glad” to finish fifth at 2022 Italian Grand Prix amidst controversial Safety Car finish.
Hamilton began the race from 19th on the grid on medium tyres after opting to take a new power unit at the start of the race weekend in Monza, Italy, yet struggled initially to carve his way through the field in his usual fighting fashion after Mercedes had decided to target a top-six finish.
Explaining what happened in the early stages which prevented him from producing a quick charge like Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Hamilton said: “The beginning was a struggle, with a heavy fuel load and the tyres overheating in traffic,” until he began to benefit from those ahead making pit stops.
Hamilton eventually made his stop at the start of Lap 34 from fifth place and rejoined on soft tyres in 12th position, yet quickly began to carve his way up the order and found himself sixth by the end of Lap 37, which became fifth after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez made a second stop on Lap 43.
He consequently was able to hold fifth to the checkered flag after McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo experienced a stuck gear on Lap 47, which neccessitated the need for the Safety Car until the conclusion of the race much to furore of spectators.
Hamilton though admitted that he could of had “a tough battle if the race restarted,” after opting not to make a second pit stop so was “glad” to finish under the Safety Car on what he knew was set “to be a tough weekend” for him.
Mercedes’ Team Principal, Toto Wolff added that Hamilton’s task was simply to produce “damage limitation” as he enjoyed watching the seven-time champion “fight through the pack” after his sluggish start.
Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin meanwhile clarified that Hamilton had been “bogged down in a train of midfield cars but kept attacking and once he got into clear air, was able to put in some good laps and clear the lot.”