Stewart sees Hamilton’s title hopes fading: ‘Surprising how often his team mate is ahead’

2021 F1 season

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Three-times Formula 1 world champion Jackie Stewart says Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes aren’t over but believes they are fading.

The 82-year-old recently visited the Red Bull team, successor of the Stewart Grand Prix outfit he founded in 1997, and was impressed by what he saw.

“The spirit in the company is terrific,” said Stewart. “The enthusiasm for the team is very, very sharp.

“More than at McLaren, because I went to McLaren the following day, it’s a much calmer, quieter hungriness than it is with Red Bull. They really are hungry to make it happen and I think they’ve got a good chance of doing it.”

With Max Verstappen leading Hamilton by 12 points at the top of the standings, Stewart said the title contest is still “open” but believes “Mercedes-Benz fell behind a little bit” this year.

“They did fall behind a little bit technology-wise. I think they are now realising they’ve got to do more. Verstappen is driving extremely well.

“I think for the sport it would be better that Red Bull won the championship, both for the driver and the constructors. They’ve worked hard for it. I think the spectators need a change.”

Stewart believes Hamilton can still win the championship but has been surprised by the seven-times champion’s pace at times.

“Lewis, of course, has driven extremely well, he’s a very talented and experienced driver,” said Stewart. “So I don’t think the fat lady’s sung yet. I think there’s still a chance for him to do it.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021
Verstappen tends to over-drive, says Stewart
“But on the other hand, it’s always been surprising for me that his team mate, in many occasions, has been even faster. And I think at the end of the day he probably is looking towards the end of his career because he’s been at it a long time.”

Hamilton has been out-qualified by Valtteri Bottas four times this year, at Algarve, Monaco, the Red Bull Ring (Styrian Grand Prix) and Monza. Verstappen has only been beaten on merit in qualifying by his team mate once all year, at Imola.

Stewart described Verstappen as “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” but also sees room for improvement in the championship leader’s performances.

“He’s, I think, sometimes maybe a little bit over-driving,” said Stewart. “I think if he backed off a little bit, he would be even faster.

“But he’s very skilled and Red Bull are very experienced and wonderful people. I was at the factory the other day and boy, they’re focussed. It’s impressive.”

Hamilton and Verstappen have tangled twice this season, at Silverstone and Imola. Stewart admitted he was baffled by their collision at the British Grand Prix, when Verstappen crashed out heavily.

“The Silverstone incident, with two top drivers, I just couldn’t understand that,” he said. “At the beginning of the race, trying to run against each other? Didn’t make any sense.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 22 comments on “Stewart sees Hamilton’s title hopes fading: ‘Surprising how often his team mate is ahead’”

    1. someone or something
      6th November 2021, 16:14

      It’s a bit sad seeing that legend of the sport turning into a grampa who doesn’t quite understand what he’s seeing anymore.
      But hey, he’s great as a mine for quotes to enrage Hamilton’s more vocal fans and bring in those sweet clicks.

      1. Yes not exactly insightful is it, and as usual the veiled anti Hamilton jibe and the sense of his own importance.

        1. He said hamilton has been driving extremely well! This season, really??

      2. No one is enraged, it is just sad.

      3. Like yourself. If anyone has the right to have an opinion it is Stewart, an opinion that is never anti-Ham.

    2. Sure, sure. First of all we’ll see whether Bottas is ahead when it matters in qualifying and then who does better in the race. Yes, Bottas shows now that Mercedes should probably have given him a longer term contract years back (also something for RB/Marko to look at) and is generally doing a better job recently than he had been doing in the last year. But then, Hamilton is still beating him in qualifying more often than not, and consistently beating him on race pace and tyre life as well.

      1. @bascb except, Hamiton’s target should not be Bottas.
        The Bottas comparison is important to understand why Lewis is losing dramatically the duel with Verstappen, despite having the best car for most of the races: because he is average.
        Or not as good as Max.
        The teamates’ battles speak pretty loud here.

        1. @Fantomius, Rbr has easily been the car of the season. Mercs have been on the back foot from the start, a couple races were even on car performance with strategy and driver performance more critical.

          I’d have to say Max has less to worry about in comparison to Lewis.

          I fully expect Max to win this weekend and when he does he’ll have a finger on the trophy.

          But you can never rule Lewis out.

          1. Tbe Race does not agree with you. Their conclusion was that the Mercedes was on average the faster car this season.

          2. @icarby
            Bottas can rule Lewis out.
            It doesn’t even require Verstappen!

        2. Sure, @liko41, off course Bottas never was or will be a “target” for Hamilton, he is the support driver, helping out to keep red bull behind.

          I still think Bottas is not “average” and I think his last few races have shown where a confident, happy Bottas should be rated. This year the Red Bull has quite often been the better car, although Mercedes started off with a good run of strategical wins despite that. Currently it is probably more or less equal between them.

    3. Jackie Stewart is a legend of the sport and his achievements will never be forgotten. Having said that, please stop quoting him on Hamilton, it is clear he has a bias against him, one that runs deeper than mere antipathy..

      1. Definitely a guy who says Lew has been driving well this season has totally lost it or is a liar. Say it like it is, Sir Stewart.

        1. If that was all Stewart has said of Lewis I would agree with you, but he has never been a fan of him and has made a point of minimizing his achievements. He is free to (respectfully) speak his mind, I just don’t see the point in quoting him on Hamilton..

    4. I have a hunch as to why Stewart is so anti-Hamilton.

      I won’t libel myself by writing it on these pages but I’m sure you can read between the lines…

    5. Very sad to see Jackie sounding more and more out of touch with reality. Age gets us all, but it’s always wiser to say nothing than none sense. He’s got a great history in the sport and every fan owes him gratitude for his efforts to improve safety. That will always be the case, I just hope he doesn’t tarnish his reputation too much with his anti-Hamilton agenda. It’s clear he doesn’t like him but it’s starting to sound more and more like ramblings of hate rather than any substance.

      1. Jackie is envious as hell, we all know that.
        Nonetheless, it’s true Bottas is too often as quick or quicker than Hamilton and that puts lewis in the “normal drivers” squad.
        Definitely overrated.

    6. To be fair Jackie has always spoken like this. I remember Schumacher winning the 6th or 7th world title and rather than say ‘incredible achievement’ he felt the need to say Jim Clark would’ve won more if it were not for safety in those days, and then point out all the safety improvements. Which is fair enough in a way. Just not the right time. It comes across as ‘Schumacher isn’t all that great and he has me to thank for having such longevity and success with all I’ve done’.

      I’m sure it’s not how he meant it, it’s just the way he talks. Here he could quite easily have just said what anyone else would and say ‘Max and Lewis are both incredible drivers, and it’ll be a great title fight’. But instead he goes on about ‘hunger’ and Lewis being long in the tooth.

      1. They were all better drivers in Jackie’s day. Except they really were not. They were equally as talented. Sad really having to still hear Jackie’s opinions.

    7. I think the bias is more in the ones who commented than in stewart’s, he said hamilton is driving extremely well, which for this season is an exagerated compliment.

      1. @esploratore1
        Coming from a notorious Hammy disliker like you is laughable.
        Holy cow, after a sleeping decade, you all come out of the woodwork, lol

    8. I think Bottas is using a higher engine setting, one which probably only lasts 3 races ore so.

    Comments are closed.