‘Prime Lewis Hamilton’ admission leaves David Coulthard searching for answers

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in front of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on the podium.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in front of Max Verstappen, Red Bull, on the podium.

David Coulthard questions whether Lewis Hamilton can rediscover his “old Lewis magic” if Mercedes give him a winning car.

Having lost the World title to Max Verstappen in 2021, Hamilton returned to the grid vowing to take it back and right what he perceived as wrongs.

44 races later he’s yet to even win a Grand Prix, let down by Mercedes’ ground-effect aerodynamic cars.

‘This is not Lewis Hamilton at his prime’

From downforce to handling to rear-end stability, even the positioning of the driver’s seat, Hamilton had complained about the W14 for most of the season barring one or two brief moments of promise.

It led the Briton to declare he cannot wait to see the back of the car, telling the media he’ll be “happy” when it’s “gone”.

But after two years of frustration, former F1 driver Coulthard has questioned whether some of the issues belong with Hamilton.

And that makes him wonder if the Briton can regain his mojo if, and it is an if, Mercedes give him a car capable of winning Grands Prix and World titles.

“This is not Lewis at his prime,” the Scot declared to Channel 4. “This is Lewis in a very frustrating two-year state of underperforming.

“When he gets a winning car again, it’ll be really interesting to see if he can rediscover the old Lewis magic.”

Hamilton believes he can do it although he did admit he too has doubted himself at times these last two seasons.

“Ultimately, when you have difficult seasons like this, there are always going to be moments when you’re like: ‘Is it me, or is it the car? Do you still have it? Has it gone?” Hamilton told the BBC.

“Because you’re missing that, you know… when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you, and that spark, it’s extraordinary. And that’s what you’re in the search for.

“I’m only human. If anyone in the world tells you they don’t have those things, they’re in denial. We’re all human beings.”

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Mercedes will be happy to bin ‘mystery’ W14

Although Mercedes have one more outing in the W14, a Pirelli tyre test, the team’s day driving around in the W14 are almost over.

That, Mark Webber says, will come as good news given the difficulties the car has given Mercedes.

Even in the last five races, Hamilton went from praising Mercedes’ new floor at the United States and Mexican races to bemoaning the car one race later in Brazil.

He wasn’t much happier with it in Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi where his P9 helped Mercedes beat Ferrari to second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“The car is a mystery isn’t it?” said nine-time Grand Prix winner Webber.

“Like Brazil, nowhere. Mexico, Austin – obviously Lewis got done as the car was a bit low there technically – but ultimately that race there Hamilton was on fire.

“This thing is literally on or off, it blowing hot or cold, the drivers up and down.

“They’re very little nip and tuck and when you’re nip and tuck, you can actually develop, you can actually start to feed off each other.

“But when you got a gulf, it’s actually hard technically on a weekend to execute pulling all the corners together.

“So they will want to put that thing in the bin.”

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