Nico Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton is going through a “typical phase”, but he is convinced his former team-mate will bounce back.
Three races into the new season and Hamilton is yet to taste victory and he finds himself nine points behind Sebastian Vettel, who has won two races, in the standings.
The four-time World Champion looked well off the pace in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix and Rosberg admits it looks like he has lost a “touch of motivation”, but he says it is only a matter of time before the Brit comes back.
“Lewis was really struggling. He was struggling the weekend and doesn’t really understand, looking at his interviews, [what is going].
“It’s a typical phase for Lewis when it doesn’t go perfectly and he starts to lose that edge a little bit, lose a touch of motivation and then he just struggles for a while. Usually he struggles for one, two or three races, and those are the races when as his opponent in the Championship you have to maximise.
“Sebastian failed to do that. That’s a big setback for him as well because Lewis always come back and when he comes back he comes back so damn strong that he’s almost unbeatable. Let’s see when that happens.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was another driver who missed out at the Shanghai International Circuit as victory appeared to be there for the taking, but he first made contact with Hamilton and then with Vettel.
Rosberg says it would have been a “painful” day for the Dutchman.
“He’s one of the big talents out there and has a great future but driving the way he is at the moment he’s not going to be able to be World Champion, because [he makes] so many mistakes.
“Five mistakes in three races, and five major mistakes, it’s too much. [It] was one of those extremely hard days for a young driver where if you take the Championship leader out, take yourself out, you get a penalty, you are 100 percent at fault and your team-mate wins the race in an unbelievably awesome way, that is a hard day, that’s painful.
“Those are the days when a young driver like Max, hopefully for him, will learn and adapt.”