Wolff has no doubt Hamilton can be champion again despite second win-less season

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton will be ready to compete for the world championship again once Mercedes give him a competitive car, team principal Toto Wolff believes.

He said his faith in the team’s star driver remains unshaken despite Hamilton ending a second consecutive season without winning a race. He finished the last race of the season ninth in what Wolff said had been a “bad weekend” for him.

Mercedes have only won one race since Formula 1’s technical regulations were overhauled at the start of 2022. But Wolff remains convinced Hamilton is ready to fight for a record-breaking eighth world championship title if the opportunity arises.

“From Lewis’s perspective, he had a bad weekend: Fact,” said Wolff. “And I think that doesn’t do anything on him being the greatest driver in the world.

“If we are able to give him a car, he will be fighting for a world championship, I have no doubt.”

Both Mercedes drivers have said the team’s car gave them little confidence this year, a problem they intend to address with a substantially different design for 2024.

“It’s clear that when you have a F1 car like we have now, you are never at ease with it,” said Wolff. “You have good weekend and bad weekends.

“But at the end, every time when we’ve seen that Lewis has somebody in his target in front of him and it was about winning the race, then the real Lewis comes alive. And I think we just need to give him a car.”

While Hamilton failed to reach Q3 and struggled to ninth place, George Russell had one of his better weekends of the season and reached the podium for only the second time all year. Wolff praised Russell’s drive after he out-ran Lando Norris, who was delayed by a slow pit stop, and finished close enough to Sergio Perez to benefit from his post-race penalty.

“We came to this weekend a little bit on the back foot when you saw Ferrari’s performances in the last few races. And for whatever reasons we have this it’s difficult to have the car in a sweet spot. You’ve seen that with Carlos [Sainz Jnr], who never was never there this weekend, and the same with Lewis.

“Then you have the two guys fighting in the front, and I think George’s drive today was impeccable, also in managing the gaps at the end.”

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30 comments on “Wolff has no doubt Hamilton can be champion again despite second win-less season”

  1. It is certainly possible that Lewis could be WDC again … but is it probable?

    I suspect that Red Bull didn’t have to run at full speed/performance for most of this seasons races, and I fear that they will be equally dominant next year.
    Add to that the unpredictability of teams like McLaren and Aston who both seem on the verge of greatness and Mercedes are going to have to give Lewis one hell of a car to secure the wins again.

    I want him to stay and I want to see him win some more.
    World Champ again? …. that’s going to be tough to pull off.

    1. I think verstappen is an incredible competitor and hamilton isn’t getting any younger, so I feel like they would have to build a car that is at least a bit faster than the red bull, which seems unlikely after this season.

      1. @esploratore1 I think Verstappen’s dominance in the Red Bull this season and lost has exaggerated assessment of his strengths and made his weaknesses appear trivial. Observe when he’s been under pressure this season and the aggression and consequent mistakes are still there lurking. Undoubtedly various aspects of his driving have improved, especially the confidence to control races when the car is (well) ahead. But I suspect that another season of half/half fastest and second fastest (2021) would see the same issues and tangles reemerge. Especially if he’s up against Hamilton. Russell or Piastri (Leclerc has become disappointingly compliant on track).

        1. Comedy of the day comment.

        2. The truth is nobody knows the extent or skill of Hamiltons drive after the 14-21 years of driving a unbeatable car. The second he had competition he crumbled outside of races with a incredibly tuned up engine that gave him free wins regardless of what anyone else did. At this point who knows what level Hamilton is as a driver in terms of actual skill as the Merc was just a monster and only Seb or Max were good enough to challenge it in inferior machinery. In my books the current rung of drivers goes
          Russell/Ham (nothing from Mercedes is impressive)

          1. I agree it is fair to also look at Lewis in the way David BR looks at Max. Lewis has shown little when not in superior machinery. But to some extents it goes for all former champions I guess. It’s the skill level displayed that gets you into the right car.. combined with luck/chance. If Alonso would have made the move to Mercedes instead of Lewis he would be a 8-9 times WDC by now.

      2. @Esploratore – Ham doesn’t need a faster car just a competitive one. If cars are at least within 3 tenths then that’s enough.

        We’ve already seen that with that being the case. I’ll let the respective fan clubs twist and distort facts for their narrative.

        But the only part of Toto’s statement that leaves me with little confidence on Merc’s optimism of getting Hamilton parity from a car perspective is the fact he used the word “believe”.

    2. IMO the 2021 mercedes was marginally faster than red bull overall, and the result was an incredibly evenly matched fight, although hamilton got a bit luckier over the season, even considering abu dhabi I think he still gained 30 points through luck\verstappen’s bad luck.

      1. Lol that’s laughable, they had to rig the final race to give Verstappen a title, totally hollow championship. Verstappen was in the best car but made a mess of things.

        1. Not really tho. People tend to have short memories. Of course Abu Dhabi was a farce that will overshadow that championship forever (rigged imho accidentally in favour of Verstappen to finish the race under green), but over the first to thirds of the season Verstappen had quite a lot of bad luck (Silverstone, Hungary, Baku) whereas Hamilton could be considered quite lucky (Imola, Silverstone). But I also think that Mercedes had the upper hand only at the end of the season, especially in the middle Redbull enjoyed quite an advantage.

        2. @fourfourseven They might have rigged certain things, that’s possible.
          A few weeks ago I was in Germany for a exhibit for a few days. In the hotel, the last evening of the “Messe” a few Germans with a Mercedes and MTU shirts, quite drunk, were at the table next to mine, and we started talking. My German is limited at best, but the more we drank, the better they seemed to understand me… and vice versa.
          Anyway. At a certain moment we were talking about F1, and I brought up 2021. Instead of getting mad, they started laughing and “joking”.
          They told/joked to me, as far as I understood, that the FIA and Mercedes had an agreement, where the FIA allowed the Mercedes to run one car a bit outside the rules, to get the gap to Red-bull closed, but with the provision that said car would not become the WDC. Only, at the last race, someone at Mercedes forgot to mention this inside the team, and Mercedes ran the car legally in the last race.
          Is it true, or drunkards talk… I’ll leave at everyone else to decide.

      2. Bad luck or murder attempt?

      3. This an extremely bad situation and the entire team should be put to sleep. #44ever … or for a while.

  2. Lewis can be champion again if Mercedes provide him with the clear fastest car on the grid, the question then is only if he can beat Russell. Looking at the 2021 and 2022 seasons I would say YES given that Lewis seemingly can extract more out of a good car than Russell. Additionally the much more experience in title fights will help Lewis in a season long battle against Russell together with likely getting preferential support from Mercedes.

    1. Yes, russell is no longer a reason of concern for hamilton, he has the measure of him, especially like you said when the car is quick.

    2. Russell is no competition to Hamilton when Mercedes have a decent car.

      Toto has made it clear the past few weeks he wants Hamilton to win his 8th, so that’s clear team orders will be imposed like Bottas and Russell will be the support act and only allowed the win if Hamilton makes an error.

    3. Get Nico Rosberg back there, that will be fun

  3. This is the same proverbial that was with ORBR and Verstappen. When he was in the second best car he came second.

    So absolutely give Hamilton the best car and he will come first.

  4. it ought to be George now, really. 26 vs 39, 26 is more in his prime isn’t it. And I noticed after Max pushed past in the tunnel George went after him and got back past, which we didn’t see but it was George being actually more than just his pretty face. I don’t think it’s the first time he’s sent Max a bit of a message either. And this is what Mercedes need too

  5. Of course he can, I keep hearing this nonsense about getting old but he dragged the 5th best car to third place this season and got podiums.

    1. Alonso is also a bit of an eye-opener in the age stakes. I feel that if Alonso had a car to match the Red Bull, he too could compete with Verstappen in the WDC stakes. It seems to me that the people writing off Hamilton as too old etc is just wishful thinking on their part.

    2. The car was miles ahead of everyone but RB during parts of this season cutting through the field with its tire degradation and low fuel running being insane. Ham had no competition for second after Ferrari and AM self sabotaged with Mclaren being trash 75% of the season.

  6. I wish Mercedes well along with Ferrari, McLaren, and Aston-Martin but let’s be serious, Max in the #1 Red Bull is taking 10+ second leads at the beginning of races, pitting, and then winning by 10+ seconds. And if he needs a 2nd pit stop, he is still winning by 10+ seconds. Stats people, what was the closest margin of victory by Max this season???

  7. Give him clear fastest car by a margin and a weaker teammate and I have no doubt. People writing off Russell are right in that Hamilton did perform better than him this year but nowhere near what the point gap indicates however.

    Bring in 2024 and I’m sure it’ll probably be a closer fight with Russell coming out on top. If anything since summer break he has had better one lap pace comfortably but has been too error prone in the race painting a skewed picture of his potential. Admittedly this error situation hasn’t been helped by his rather rash first half but everyone goes through such seasons.

  8. Well Mercedes have already given him a contract worthy of a future world champion. So what’s To going to say, We screwed up?

  9. Maybe at the Beer Can Regatta, but do not dream of another F1 WDC, not even a race win.
    You heard it here first.

  10. With what car?
    That Red Bull is on a different level.
    Hamilton is best of the rest – as the points table shows – but the RBR is way too strong.

  11. Yes, Toto, let’s be positive. It doesn’t cost anything.

  12. LOL, with a competitive car, no chance.
    Only way is with a dominant car again.
    And I can’t see Mercedes building that under Toto.
    Their winning run was in a project he took over from Ross Brawn, but now that he’s had to lead the team into a new era, they’re struggling to get above 3rd in the championship, and with McLaren & Aston improving, they’re going to be the 3rd best Mercedes team soon, never mind overall.

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