Ex-Ferrari and Benetton team manager Peter Windsor believes Lewis Hamilton won’t “put everything on the line” in 2024, if Mercedes give him another disappointing car.
Hamilton’s 2023 campaign was an odd one, as he tended to either be very quick or rather disappointing.
This was the case at the recent season finale in Abu Dhabi, where he was eliminated in Q2 for the second Grand Prix in a row for the first time since 2014.
He went onto finish the last race of the year in ninth, whilst George Russell finished in third which secured Mercedes second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Given how much better Russell was than Hamilton at the Yas Marina Circuit, it’s remarkable to think that the seven-time World Champion ended the season five places and 59 points ahead of his teammate.
The truth is, when the W14 was in a good operating window, Hamilton tended to be much faster than Russell, allowing him to secure six podiums.
However, when the car was struggling for performance, Russell often had the better of the 38-year-old.
It was a bizarre sight to behold, although Windsor wonders if it was because the 103-time race winner held back from giving it 110 per cent when the car wasn’t good enough for a strong result.
Windsor is adamant that when Hamilton is given a strong car he is still faster than Russell but believes that the version of the Stevenage-born driver on show today is an “interesting Lewis”.
“One of the reasons Lewis has been so successful is because he’s very intelligent and he’s intelligent enough to know how to pace his life and his career and how to sustain his motivation and his drive,” Windsor said in a recent YouTube stream.
“He’s done that very well. He’s taken on a lot of criticism – particularly from the British tabloid press – over the years for the way he’s lived his life away from Formula 1.
“But a lot of that has been Lewis knowing that he needs that, otherwise it’s going to overtake him, and I respect that enormously about Lewis.
“I think it’s an interesting Lewis that we’re seeing now. I don’t think it’s the same Lewis, obviously, that we had around in 2007/08.
“I think Lewis now isn’t going to put everything on the line if he doesn’t feel completely comfortable in the car – but I think if he does feel completely comfortable in the car, then I think he’s still quicker than George Russell.
“I think he’s that good. But I think he’s at a point now where he’s not going to do that – he’s not going to be absolutely out there at George pace – unless the car is right. We saw that in Abu Dhabi.”