Former Formula 1 racer Christian Danner believes the success of Fernando Alonso in 2023 will inspire Lewis Hamilton to keep fighting through Mercedes’ current difficulties.
After going through a season without a win for the first time in his career last season, Hamilton had targeted a return to title-winning contention in 2023 but finished no higher than fifth in the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
With Mercedes acknowledging mistakes were made in the development of the W14 car, the team appear to face a long road to return to the form that saw them win eight consecutive Constructors’ titles between 2014 and 2021.
In light of Mercedes tricky start to the season doubts have surfaced over the future of 38-year-old Hamilton, whose current contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
But Danner, who made 36 grand prix starts between 1985 and 1989, feels the strong start to the season for 41-year-old Alonso – who finished third in Sakhir and Jeddah – should convince Hamilton that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As reported by Speedweek, he told ServusTV: “I still don’t think that the seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton will lose interest in Formula 1.
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“If only because we are experiencing a magnificent driving Fernando Alonso, and the Spaniard is three years older than Lewis.
“Certainly, an uncompetitive car can take a racer’s edge. But for me, Lewis is a driver who doesn’t give up easily.
“Even if he’s facing a pretty rough wind in the form of his stablemate George Russell.
“Hamilton, however, is someone who bites his teeth into adversity and then seeks success with even more fierce determination.”
On Thursday, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner closed the door on the prospect of signing Hamilton if the seven-time World Champion does not continue with Mercedes beyond 2023, insisting the World Champions are fully committed to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
He told Sky News: “What Lewis has achieved in Formula 1 is second to none but we’re very happy with the drivers that we have.
“They’re committed as a pair not only for this season but next season as well, so I can’t see where we would be able to accommodate Lewis.
“But I’m sure [Mercedes are] going to sort their issues out and we’re certainly not writing him off yet.”
Over the Saudi Arabian GP weekend, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted he would have “no grouch” if Hamilton decided he wanted to pursue a record-breaking eighth title elsewhere if the team are unable to find a solution to their current problems.