2009 world champion Jenson Button believes the only thing stopping Sir Lewis Hamilton rediscovering competitiveness is his motivation.
For the first time in nine years, the 37-year-old finds himself driving a car that does not seem competitive enough to win races, and he has not scored a podium since the opening round of the season in Bahrain.
New team-mate George Russell spent three years racing towards the back with Williams for his arrival to Brackley, and he appears to have settled in nicely to the misbehaving W13, scoring two podiums and finishing every race in the top five.
The change in scenery from the front to the midfield will have been somewhat of a culture shock for Hamilton, who has been out-performed by Russell in all of the last six grand prix.
“I think the big shift for Lewis is he’s driving a car that isn’t competitive in his world,” explained Button on Chris Evans’ Virgin radio show.
“He’s been fighting for the World Championship since 2014 and his team-mate has come, young upstart George Russell, and he’s been competitive.
“Because George is driving a car that’s actually better than he was used to [at Williams], it’s given him confidence and he can push a bit harder.
“Whereas Lewis has probably not got so much confidence in the car to be able to extract the maximum out of it.
“And when you’ve had a few bad races, it hurts mentally. This is a mental sport. It’s not just physical.”
Button spent three years partnering Hamilton at McLaren, so is very familiar with the remarkable talent the seven-time champion possesses.
The 42-year-old does not doubt that his compatriot can win races again, the only question mark is whether he still has the drive for it as he enters the final years of his career.
“Lewis, as we all know, is one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world at driving a Formula 1 car,” added Button.
“He will be competitive again – if he wants to be. That’s the thing. Maybe he thinks his career is over and he wants to go and do something else. Who knows?
“But Lewis, if he has a car that’s good enough to win, he will win races.”
Hamilton heads into this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku searching for better fortunes following a difficult weekend in Monaco that saw him finish eighth.