Johnny Herbert has questioned whether Lewis Hamilton may consider a switch to Ferrari if Mercedes cannot improve their form.
The Silver Arrows faced a difficult start to the 2023 F1 season, leading to Hamilton suggesting that the team did not listen to his advice when designing the W14 car.
However, the Briton has downplayed the idea that he might be tempted to go elsewhere, while the squad had a better weekend on track at the Australian Grand Prix.
Herbert believes that Mercedes' level of progress going forwards could be crucial in deciding Hamilton's future.
Herbert: Problem for Hamilton/Ferrari move is time
"I suppose it’s down to what happens at Mercedes," Herbert told Standard Sport.
"Can they turn it around? If that doesn’t work and Lewis still has the fire in his belly and thinks this is not the place for him where does he go?"
In terms of his other options, Herbert feels that time – or a lack of – could be a possible hindrance in any possible switch to Ferrari.
"Would he go to Ferrari? Does he want to go there as he feels that's where he gets a championship?" Herbert continued.
"Would he feel he could take his energy and people from Mercedes there like Michael Schumacher did and actually change and steer it in a positive way? The problem with that is time."
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Challenge posed by Russell
While Herbert believes that Hamilton still has the skill and drive to claim an eighth World Championship, he thinks that the simulator aspect of racing is one that Hamilton is not as comfortable with as some of his younger rivals.
"The biggest difference now is that the majority of the young generation of great drivers on the grid have something that Lewis has never been comfortable with and want to put all their energies in, which is the sim stuff," Herbert said.
"It adds a sixth sense."
Herbert also expects Hamilton's teammate George Russell to continue to pose a challenge to the 38-year-old.
"George has been able to challenge him and put him under a lot of pressure," Herbert added.
"George is going to be tough for Max Verstappen when he gets the right car. I think Lando Norris is the same given the right car."
Balve Baines is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Australian Grand Prix.