Lewis Hamilton ‘effort’ warning issued to Ferrari ahead of 2025 Charles Leclerc battle

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in the pits during Bahrain F1 pre-season testing

Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane.

Ex-Renault team boss Flavio Briatore says Ferrari “must improve” for 2025 or Lewis Hamilton’s “effort”, as he feels history has shown, will become an issue.

Hamilton is now into his final season in Mercedes colours, having made the shock announcement ahead of the F1 2024 campaign that be would become a Ferrari driver as of 2025.

Lewis Hamilton ‘doesn’t put effort in if car isn’t good enough’

And upon his arrival to Maranello, Hamilton will find Charles Leclerc on the other side of the garage, with Carlos Sainz the driver who is on the lookout for a new home.

It has been a tough start to F1 2024 for Hamilton though, who has been outqualified by team-mate George Russell and finished behind him on race day at the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian GPs, Hamilton admitting he is “not having fun” in the W15 so far.

However, while Ferrari appear to have started the season further up the road from Mercedes, there still remains a sizeable gap to leaders Red Bull, whose three-time World Champion Max Verstappen has led home a pair of 1-2 finishes to start the season.

Briatore estimates Verstappen’s advantage out front to be “eight-tenths” a lap, arguing that if Ferrari do not address that, then Hamilton “is one of those drivers who doesn’t put much effort into it if the car isn’t good”, which could see Leclerc wrestle away the upper hand.

“They may be the second force, but it is not a position suitable for Ferrari,” Briatore is quoted as having told Italian broadcaster Rai 1. “The car must improve. With those gaps, no driver can make the difference.

“If Hamilton was already at Ferrari today, he would do the same things as Leclerc, who is a fast driver, although often underestimated.

“In the end he might struggle to stay ahead of Charles because he is one of those drivers who doesn’t put much effort into it if the car isn’t good.”

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Briatore’s comments follow those of 13-time grands prix winner David Coulthard who questioned Hamilton’s commitment to this final Mercedes season after his early struggles.

Hamilton’s P7 in Bahrain was heavily influenced by engine overheating issues for both he and Russell, though a P9 in Saudi Arabia strengthened the woes.

“He’s just not been settled with this car,” said Coulthard on Channel 4.

“And you can tell, you know, George is just honing the lap time right now and you can feel that Lewis is on the backfoot.

“What we do know though, if he does find a window of performance, then you know he will deliver.

“But right now, it’s looking like his decision to head off to Ferrari, mentally, he is already there.”

Hamilton sits P9 in the early F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings.

Read next – Max Verstappen v Lewis Hamilton: The key difference in driving mindset revealed