Juan Pablo Montoya predicts we will see ‘a different Lewis Hamilton’ in 2023
Juan Pablo Montoya believes “a different Lewis Hamilton” will be on show in 2023, if Mercedes are onto a winner with the W14.
Hamilton went a full season without a win for the first time in his Formula 1 career last year, with Mercedes struggling for pace compared to Ferrari and Red Bull alongside their issues with porpoising on the W13.
While he still took nine podium finishes, Hamilton used the first part of the season to take experimental setups on his car as the team searched for solutions, while team-mate George Russell racked up consecutive top-five finishes.
Russell would outscore Hamilton over the course of the season, though, as the younger Mercedes driver earned his first pole position and victory in Formula 1 in Hungary and Brazil respectively.
Montoya praised Hamilton for his pragmatic approach to driving and not pushing too hard when he didn’t need to last season, but he predicted the seven-time World Champion will be back to his best again in the year ahead.
Peter Windsor: ‘Petulant’ Max Verstappen needs to show more dignity as F1 World Champion
Revealed: What goes on inside a GPDA drivers’ meeting away from the cameras
Christian Horner wants to avoid drivers becoming ‘robots’ with FIA clampdown
When asked by the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com if he thinks Hamilton will beat Russell over the course of 2023, Montoya responded: “Yes, because last year it was also largely down to the problems Mercedes had with the car. And Lewis is a driver who if there is an opportunity to shine, he will grab it with both hands.
“But when he lies fifth and knows there is no more in it than that, you won’t see him driving like his life depends on it.
“Then he will just do what it takes to secure that fifth spot. But on the other side of the garage, with George, you have a young driver who goes flat out every race and wants to prove himself every time.
“However, I expect that if Mercedes has a winning car again, we are going to see a different Lewis.”
Lewis Hamilton hoping to add to title tally in 2023
Much of Hamilton’s prospects in 2023 will hinge on how the Mercedes W14 performs, with the car set to be launched on 15 February ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
He has already been back behind the wheel of his 2022 challenger at Paul Ricard earlier this week, completing a tyre test for Pirelli alongside Russell before the team do the same again at Jerez on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hamilton’s first step of the season will be to get back onto the top step of the podium after his first ever winless year in Formula 1, but given his form in the second half of 2022 and the potential progress Mercedes could have made over winter, few would bet against him challenging at the sharp end if he has a car capable of doing so.