Lewis Hamilton has been tipped to bounce back strongly against Max Verstappen once the machinery is under him.
The seven-time F1 World Champion has had two consecutive seasons without a race win, as Red Bull and Max Verstappen have swept all before them since the beginning of the ground-effect ruleset introduced for 2022.
Hamilton’s most recent win, his 103rd, came at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the climactic end to the titanic title fight between himself and Verstappen – but his winless streak has been tipped to come to an end the instant the car under him is up to the task.
Christian Klien: Don’t underestimate Lewis Hamilton
While Hamilton has a comparatively quiet two years as Verstappen has mopped up the majority of the success available, the seven-time World Champion still has the capacity to challenge the Dutch driver when his car comes on song again, believes Christian Klien.
The Austrian, who drove for Red Bull in 2005 and ’06, said Hamilton – like Fernando Alonso – will be back to his best the instant the car under him is capable of winning a title, which the W13 and W14 were not.
“You should not underestimate Lewis,” Klien said in an interview with RacingNews365.com.
“He is a top-class driver. He hasn’t lost any of his qualities. A bit like Fernando Alonso – give him the right car and he’ll show what he’s able to do. If he has the right car and finds extra motivation, then he can definitely be one who gives Max a run for his money.”
For now, Hamilton still has the edge over younger teammate George Russell in a straight fight, believes Klien, but Russell is ready to assume the leadership role at Mercedes once Hamilton decides to move on from F1.
“Russell is good. He showed that last year that he is ready,” Klien said.
“This year he struggled, but that’s part of the learning curve. He’s still young and has many years to go. I definitely think he can be the captain at Mercedes in the future.
“This year Hamilton was much better than Russell. Last year the roles were reversed. Maybe Hamilton was not 100 percent motivated last year, because he was a seven-time World Champion with a car that was not performing.
“He invested a lot of time helping the team improve a car that was not competitive.
“Lewis showed his class, with some very good races where he showed what the car was capable of. He was more consistent than George. George was unfortunate, but also had some problems with the way the car worked.”