Lewis Hamilton’s ‘revitalising’ Ferrari move won’t bring team titles, claims Thierry Boutsen

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

Thierry Boutsen believes Lewis Hamilton will be revitalised by his move to Ferrari next season.

Three-time F1 Grand Prix winner Thierry Boutsen believes Lewis Hamilton will be revitalised by his Ferrari switch next season.

Hamilton moves from Mercedes after more than a decade – and six drivers’ championship titles – to join Ferrari in 2025, but is struggling to match George Russell in the opening races of this season.

Thierry Boutsen: Lewis Hamilton finding it difficult to give 100 percent

Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, the former Williams Grand Prix winner spoke about Hamilton’s upcoming career move.

The Scuderia are currently Red Bull’s closest rivals at the head of the field as the only team to topple them for a Grand Prix win since the end of 2022, with Mercedes currently unable to join in the fight for victories.

But Hamilton has been struggling to keep pace with George Russell in recent races, fuelling speculation that he is already mentally moving on from the team with whom he’s won so many titles.

In Japan, Hamilton out-qualified Russell but came under pressure from his younger teammate before asking whether or not to let him by. Hamilton did release Russell to go chase stronger positions, with Russell going on to finish in seventh and Hamilton in ninth.

Despite Hamilton’s low-key start to the season, Boutsen doubts the seven-time F1 World Champion is in any way not applying himself fully to the task of delivering the best results for his current employer.

“I don’t think he’s moving on from Mercedes,” he told PlanetF1.com.

“But I see that, with all his experience and his age, it’s a little bit more difficult to give it 100 percent.

“Maybe he’s only driving at 98 percent. We saw it during the race [in Japan] when he asked whether he should let George past him. A few years back, he would have been fighting like hell to stay ahead of him.

“Now, when it gets worse like this one, he gets in a bad situation and he just gives up and gives Russell a chance to be better than him and to help the team to be better because he feels that he’s not in a position – or not capable – to perform as well, for whatever reason.”

Thierry Boutsen: A driver cannot help a team return to the top

While Ferrari currently has the edge on Mercedes in the battle for supremacy in the Constructors’ Championship, is Hamilton the final ingredient needed to help push the Scuderia to be able to fight with Red Bull for the outright title?

Boutsen doubts so, saying the impact of the driver is less important than it perhaps once was.

“I think a driver cannot bring a team to the top,” he said.

“This is no longer the case – it was possible in the 1970s. And the ’80s. Maybe a little bit in the ’90s but, since then, it’s no longer possible.

“Otherwise, he would have beaten Verstappen last year, the year before, and would be winning the championship this year.

“Drivers are no longer involved in the development of the car, it’s more the computers and the engineers that build the car.

“But, to be the driver to bring Ferrari to this level, I don’t see that.

“If the Ferrari goes back to that level, it’s because they make a car that is capable of winning and, joining Ferrari at the end of this year, how much time will he have to build the team around him to build the car?”

But, even if Hamilton’s arrival might not make a difference to the competitiveness of the machinery under him, Boutsen is convinced the move will re-spark Hamilton’s enthusiasm with a fresh start.

“Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely,” he said when asked if the move to Ferrari will be a revitalising force for Hamilton.

“It’ll be very interesting to see how he revitalises himself and comes back into a winning spirit.”

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