‘Lewis Hamilton can’t’ – Ex-F1 racer reveals George Russell trait seven-time champion cannot match

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton poses for F1's 2024 promo shots with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Lewis Hamilton's final season as a Mercedes driver has started poorly

Former F1 driver Marc Surer believes Lewis Hamilton cannot adapt to an underperforming F1 car like Mercedes team-mate George Russell following a poor start to the 2024 season. 

Having announced in February that he will join Ferrari next year, Hamilton has endured a tough start to his final season as a Mercedes driver after being outpaced by Russell in the first three races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

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Mercedes’ struggles slumped to a new low last time out in Melbourne, where the team failed to score a point in a race for the first time since the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix as both drivers retired.

Hamilton’s pace deficit to Russell has been likened to the 2022 season, where the latter established an early pace advantage amid Mercedes’ car troubles.

This, Surer believes, is because Russell’s experience with Williams at the start of his F1 career taught him how to extract the maximum from a bad car, with Hamilton’s history of driving front-running machinery hurting him when the car is not exactly to his liking.

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Appearing on the Formula1.de YouTube channel, Surer said: “If the car is not good, then Russell drives better, because he has had to struggle for years with this Williams with a car that is relatively poorly positioned.

“Lewis has only ever driven the best cars. That means that if the car doesn’t do what Lewis wants, then he has a problem. And that’s exactly how it is again at the moment.”

“And Russell can live with compromises, just like [Fernando] Alonso. These are people who can simply adapt to the car.

“Lewis can’t do that. But remember: at the end of last year, when the car got better, the old Lewis was suddenly back again.”

Surer reckons Hamilton – without a win since the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia – has been “spoilt” by driving winning cars throughout his career, with his failure to win in imperfect machinery a weakness compared to other F1 greats.

He explained: “That is precisely his weakness, that he is perhaps simply spoilt.

“He’s always been in the best team in Formula 3 and Formula 2, which means it’s completely normal for him that the car behaves exactly the way he wants it to.”

“And if he has to fight with the car, then he loses. On the other hand, if the car is good, then he surpasses himself. That’s the ability to practically outclass the opposition. At the moment when the car is exactly the way you want it to be.”

With Hamilton turning 40 upon his arrival at Ferrari in 2025, Surer fears the seven-time World Champion’s advancing age will count against him at Maranello.

“What we say about Alonso will also be the case with him. At some point, the sheer speed will wear off.

“He will certainly be motivated again when he is in a Ferrari, because he naturally wants to prove to the world that he can win races in a Ferrari, but his age simply speaks against him.

“The experience does help in the race, and if we know him, with his radio messages, he always passes on extremely good information to the team.

“It sometimes sounds like complaining, but nevertheless: the information is obviously extremely important.

“So his experience will certainly be able to contribute.

“But in terms of pure speed, I also think he will lose a few hundredths or tenths.”

Read next: ‘It’s not over yet’ – Lewis Hamilton opens up on ‘very complex’ Mercedes situation