Former F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has raised questions about Lewis Hamilton’s hunger for the sport as the Mercedes driver faces an unprecedented two-year drought without a grand prix victory.
Stewart, who was the most successful British F1 driver until Hamilton broke his record with four titles in 2017, believes that Hamilton needs to recapture the hunger from earlier in his career to succeed.
Stewart acknowledged Hamilton’s exceptional talent, stating, “First of all, Lewis is one of the best ever to drive in F1.”
However, he pointed out that over the past decade, Hamilton has raced with Mercedes, a team that has often been out of contention.
During this period, Hamilton’s primary competition has been his teammate, against whom he has usually emerged victorious, except in 2016 when he lost to Nico Rosberg.
Stewart praised Rosberg as a good driver but not necessarily the most talented in the world.
“Lewis had only one real competitor during that time: his teammate, he always emerged victorious from the duel except for 2016.
“And then he lost to Nico Rosberg, with respect: a good driver, but not the most talented in the world.”
However, he emphasised that Rosberg possessed an unmatched hunger and determination to become a world champion, which ultimately led to his victory over Hamilton in 2016.
“But Rosberg was hungry, had the absolute will to become world champion.”
In contrast, Stewart suggested that Hamilton may no longer possess the same level of hunger, partly due to the changing strength of the Mercedes car.
“Lewis no longer has that hunger.
“That’s why – and because the car is no longer as strong – he has serious problems.”
When asked about Hamilton’s future, Stewart expressed his belief that Hamilton would likely remain with Mercedes for the remainder of his career, especially after signing a contract extension until the end of the 2025 season, when Hamilton will be on the brink of turning 41.
However, Stewart remained skeptical about Hamilton winning another world championship during this period, citing the competitiveness of the field.
Stewart also dismissed claims that the 2023 F1 season had been boring despite Max Verstappen’s dominance, with the Red Bull driver on the verge of securing his third successive drivers’ title.
He emphasised the excitement of the season, stating, “I don’t find them boring at all; the entertainment factor is gigantic!”
Stewart acknowledged that while the championship had been decided, the battles behind Verstappen had been closely contested.
Stewart highlighted that without Verstappen’s exceptional season, there would have been a three-way battle for the championship involving Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso, representing three different teams.