Watson: Hamilton has to upset odds in Mexico or Brazil

Date published: October 30 2021 - Michelle Foster

Lewis Hamilton in the P1 board backdrop. United States, October 2021.

Lewis Hamilton has “every element” needed to fight Max Verstappen for this year’s World title, now Mercedes must deliver a reliable engine.

That’s according to five-time grand prix winner John Watson.

This year’s championship is proving to be Hamilton’s hardest season in years, the Brit up against a fast and mature Verstappen in the championship race.

The Red Bull driver currently holds a 12-point advantage, having doubled his lead when he beat Hamilton at the United States Grand Prix, a race that the form book said should have gone the Mercedes driver’s way.

Following that shock defeat, Watson feels Hamilton needs to hit back and claim the win at either the Mexican or Brazilian GPs, two circuits that should favour Red Bull.

“I think that the momentum right now is with Red Bull,” the Brit told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview.

“In terms of the knowns, I would say Mexico and Brazil favour Red Bull. Abu Dhabi is probably even-stevens, and the other two, Qatar and Saudi, are open for either team.

“Mercedes has made a significant comeback in terms of its performance. And Lewis is still driving, as he showed on Sunday, at the top of his game. But on the other hand, you’ve got an issue around Mercedes with motors and reliability.

“The reality is, Lewis needs to win one of the next two races, and Max have one of the two as a poor result.

“If Max wins in Mexico, it’s going to be very, very difficult for Lewis to find a way to get back on terms, other than through an unforeseen unreliability issue with Red Bull.”

The 75-year-old is confident that Hamilton has all to the tools he needs to bounce back, but does have questions about Mercedes’ reliability when it comes to their engine.

“Lewis has got every element in the toolbox to take the battle to Max,” Watson added.

“What he needs is to have the performance, but most of all the reliability, to know that he can nail the car, and that he’s got the maximum potential performance from every component.”

The Brackley squad admits they are struggling at the moment, finding that their engine loses performance quite quickly after a few races.

That has forced the team into making changes, Valtteri Bottas already onto his sixth International Combustion Engine of the season with Hamilton on his fourth.

Asked if he thought Mercedes’ reliability concerns could be weighing on Hamilton, he replied: “It’ll not affect his performance, but obviously if he’s on the back foot, then he’s going to be limited in what he’s going to be able to do.

“He needs Mercedes to deliver at every one of the final five races.”

 

“This is the first genuine championship competition in the hybrid era. Lewis’ opposition has primarily only come from his own teammates, not a rival team, as is the case now.

“It has got all the makings of a stellar finale to the championship.”