Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger hilariously dismissed 1996 world champion Damon Hill’s prediction that Sir Lewis Hamilton will win this weekend’s French Grand Prix.
The Silver Arrows have been making a resurgence of late from their awful start to the season that saw them manage three podiums in the first seven rounds, two of them from George Russell.
Hamilton’s finish outside the points – realistically his first on raw pace since 2013 – in Imola was demonstrative of a team struggling to find any consistency.
Fast forward to the last four races, and the German side have been on the rostrum in all of them, with Hamilton managing three in a row for the first time since last season.
The seven-time champion even looked as though he might have been on course to get the win in Silverstone when he displayed tremendous pace, and upgrades, coupled with new regulations in Belgium, could help get them back to the front.
The Circuit Paul Ricard in France is full of straights and smooth asphalt, as well as very little undulation – Mercedes have done well on those circuits this year.
Therefore, Hill believes that Hamilton is a real contender for the win in France this weekend.
“I’m going to go for Lewis Hamilton,” he told the F1 Nation Podcast.
The Briton predicted that Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will come to blows in the race, opening the door for the eight-time constructors’ champions.
“I think there’s going to be an incident, we’ve been talking about how well they’ve been getting on but that first corner is a bit tricky,” added Hill.
“Let’s say Charles loses his front wing or Max gets a puncture or something like that, or maybe even on pure pace, Mercedes springs a surprise.
“Because in their race trim Lewis has, on occasions, been very quick. It could even be Lewis first, George second and Carlos Sainz third.”
Host Tom Clarkson agreed with the former Williams and Jordan driver, causing Berger to joke: “What’s going on with you guys? Are you drinking or what?”
Mercedes are set to run Nyck de Vries in FP1 on Friday in place of Hamilton as part of the mandatory development driver running each team must do this season.