Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton is only now recovering from the pain of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021.
The Mercedes driver was on course to secure a record-breaking eighth F1 Drivers' Championship before the infamous Safety Car period, and the way it was handled by FIA race control, led to Max Verstappen making a last-lap overtake to clinch his first title.
The Silver Arrows have been unable to provide a competitive car for Hamilton and teammate George Russell since then, whilst Verstappen and Red Bull have been dominant.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Brundle said: "I think Abu Dhabi 2021 hit Lewis so hard, I am only seeing him recover now, if I am honest, in terms of what you see out on track.
"They haven't got the car yet... it is a strong statement but I believe it."
Viewed by others:
Mercedes will add a large upgrade package to the W14 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in the hope it can bridge the gulf to Red Bull and return to the fight for race victories.
On the team's chances, Brundle explained: "It will be hard from here, Red Bull won't stand still either.
"They are a great team - we knew that from their multiple world championships - making the best of a car that is not right and we were amazed they didn't make more changes on this car for 2023.
"There are all sorts of expressions but we will see. They have got everything crossed for those upgrades in Imola... haven't we all? We need somebody to hunt those Red Bulls down."