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Lewis Hamilton

F1 winner provides damning reason for Hamilton slump

Former Belgian F1 driver Thierry Boutsen has revealed what he thinks is the reason behind Lewis Hamilton's loss of form this season - also stating that if he is to win a championship with Ferrari, it will be on the team's merit.

Hamilton Japan
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Ex-Formula 1 driver and race winner Thierry Boutsen believes Lewis Hamilton may be struggling to give “100 percent” in his final year at Mercedes.

Boutsen, who raced in Formula 1 between 1983 and 1993, has questioned the level at which Hamilton is currently performing at, suggesting that “maybe he’s only driving at 98 percent.”

However, the 66-year-old, who won three grand prix during his time at Williams, doesn’t think it is a case of ‘phoning it in’ ahead of his move to Ferrari next season.

“I don’t think he’s moving on from Mercedes,” he said in an interview with PlanetF1.com. “But I see that, with all his experience and his age, it’s a little bit more difficult to give it 100 percent.

“Maybe he’s only driving at 98 percent. We saw it during the race [in Japan] when he asked whether he should let George [Russell] past him. A few years back, he would have been fighting like hell to stay ahead of him.”

“Now, when it gets worse like this one, he gets in a bad situation and he just gives up and gives Russell a chance to be better than him and to help the team to be better because he feels that he’s not in a position – or not capable – to perform as well, for whatever reason.”

The seven-time drivers’ world champion has been out-performed by his less experienced team-mate over the opening four rounds of the season. At Suzuka, Hamilton finished ninth after letting George Russell through to claim seventh at the chequered flag.

The 103-time race winner has scored just 10 points so far this season, his worst return at this stage of the season across his entire F1 career. Russell has over double his output, with 24.

'A driver cannot bring a team to the top'

Boutsen maintained that a change of scenery may be exactly what Hamilton needs.

When asked if his move to Ferrari will help revitalise the 39-year-old, he replied: “Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

“It’ll be very interesting to see how he revitalises himself and comes back into a winning spirit.”

Despite this, the Belgian does not believe that Hamilton alone will be enough to return the Italian team to championship-winning glory, arguing that the driver is less important to a team’s success than they maybe would have once been.

“I think a driver cannot bring a team to the top,” he explained.

“This is no longer the case – it was possible in the 1970s. And the ’80s. Maybe a little bit in the ’90s but, since then, it’s no longer possible.

“Otherwise, he would have beaten Verstappen last year, the year before, and would be winning the championship this year.

“Drivers are no longer involved in the development of the car, it’s more the computers and the engineers that build the car.”

Ferrari have been Red Bull’s closest challengers in 2024, with many contending that with further development this season, Hamilton might be enough to help them take the fight to F1’s current dominant power.

“To be the driver to bring Ferrari to this level, I don’t see that,” Boutsen added.

“If the Ferrari goes back to that level, it’s because they make a car that is capable of winning and, joining Ferrari at the end of this year, how much time will he have to build the team around him to build the car?”

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