Opting to stick with Mercedes instead of chasing a Ferrari seat, Johnny Herbert fears that’s the end of Lewis Hamilton’s chances of securing a record-breaking eighth World title.
As Hamilton and Mercedes discussed the finer points in a new contract, several notable pundits urged the Briton to swap Mercedes for Ferrari.
That, the likes of Eddie Jordan felt, would be a match made in heaven while moving in 2024 would give the Briton enough time to build Ferrari up into the team he wants in order to chase number eight.
Johnny Herbert rules out Lewis Hamilton winning an eighth World title
Instead, Hamilton put pen to paper on a new $50m Mercedes contract, one that will see him remain with the Brackley squad through to the end of the 2025 season.
It’s also one that Herbert fears has brought an end to his chances of winning an eighth World title.
“He may be aware of what may be happening in the future with Mercedes and has been satisfied that is where his future is,” he told the Mirror.
“Still, I would have liked to have seen the final part of his career in a Ferrari. I honestly think he was the right character and the perfect fit for them.
“[But] If he is happy where he is, for him, that is the best mental place for him to be. You have got to have belief in where you are at and Lewis does, which is why he re-signed.”
But, the three-time grand prix winner added: “Based on the last couple of years, I don’t see Lewis getting an eighth title.
“The car has got better since they changed from the original concept, but they are only as good as the gap behind Red Bull. They are not ahead of the game.
“Can they turn it around? I don’t know. I haven’t seen those positive signs. They have gone forward but not very far. The car is not a race winner.”
Rules out F1 ever seeing a Hamilton-Verstappen line-up
But while Hamilton has already hinted that 2025 may not be his final season in the sport, Herbert reckons one team Formula 1 will never see him join is Red Bull as he won’t race alongside Max Verstappen.
Although fans would love to see the two in equal machinery, Herbert says it wouldn’t work.
“I don’t think Max and Lewis will work in a team,” Motorsport.com reports Herbert as having told Grosvenor Sport. “In F1 there always comes a time when the baton is passed on to the next driver, in this case Max.
“However, Lewis is extremely good and still capable of beating Max. You have to be in the right position and with the right team.
“Max is now in such a situation with Sergio Perez at Red Bull. This applied to Michael Schumacher and me, to Sebastian Vettel with Mark Webber, and to Mika Hakkinen with David Coulthard. There is always a driver with an advantage. If you know that, it is important to get the most out of them. History shows that.
“It is extremely rare that the two best drivers come into a team. For example, it was very difficult to control Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in a dominant situation. Gerhard Berger once said to me that he did not want to be in a team with Michael as he knew how Flavio Briatore worked with Michael.”