Mika Hakkinen has remarkably suggested that a “sulking” Lewis Hamilton may now be thinking about a move away from Mercedes.
Only reliability issues for Red Bull have enabled the seven-time former World Champion to capture his sole podium finish during the first three races of the season, leaving Hamilton down in fifth in the Drivers’ standings with a 43-point deficit to Charles Leclerc at the top.
Moreover, the 37-year-old is also nine points behind Russell, who benefited from the timing of a Safety Car to finish on the podium at the Australian Grand Prix last time out.
Hakkinen, speaking in a video for Unibet, suspects the atmosphere may not be the best in Mercedes’ debriefing meetings due to their car’s lack of competitiveness – and even that Hamilton may already be looking for a way out for 2023 if he senses sufficient improvement may not be forthcoming.
“It’s a tough spot for Lewis, it’s obvious,” said the two-time former World Champion.
“The last race in Australia was a tough spot for Lewis – really tough. They got a good result – not the result they hoped for but still good points for the team.
“But I’m sure Lewis is still annoyed by the situation. It’s hard to be beaten by George.
“I’m afraid this will be a really difficult season for Lewis. It’s already difficult for Mercedes but especially for Lewis.”
The Finn believes Russell’s promising start, in the first time he has regularly been able to compete in the top half of the pack, exacerbates the situation for Hamilton.
“George comes from a team with little or no success. He had some good results in qualifying but not in races. All these achievements with Mercedes are new to him. Everything feels super-good,” added Hakkinen.
“For Lewis, this is a disaster. And with George being ahead, it’s even worse.
“I wonder how Lewis behaves in the team meetings – I bet he’s sulking. I can imagine the sulking. There’s lots of complaining and whining.
“And now starts the natural thought process of drivers. ‘Should I go somewhere else?’
“It’s a fact. He’s been at Mercedes for years and won multiple championships. Now that things are not going well, he’ll start thinking of switching teams.”
Hakkinen: 'Whining' Hamilton thinking of switch
Mika Hakkinen thinks Lewis Hamilton may already be considering his future at Mercedes.