A former colleague of Lewis Hamilton reckons the seven-time World Champion will recover from his tough Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, saying that the event in Jeddah proved he is still "human".
Pedro de la Rosa, a long-time test driver with the McLaren team whose tenure largely overlapped with Hamilton's, spoke about how the Briton showed that he and his side of the garage aren't completely infallible in Jeddah.
Hamilton was knocked out in Q1 for the first time since the 2017 season, with the Mercedes driver simply lacking the pace to progress to the second part of qualifying.
While Hamilton recovered strongly to rise up to sixth in the race, an unfortunately-timed pit lane closure meant he could only finish 10th on Sunday.
Hamilton "has proved to be human"
"I think that he proved to be human," de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast when asked about Hamilton's tough weekend in Saudi Arabia.
"He had a bad day in the office. I'm not saying a bad day driving in the office, but a bad day taking decisions in the office as well. They pushed it too hard on the set-up, and they went too far.
"He didn't have the
best of qualifying sessions as well. There were a lot of red flags and
he had the Medium tyre initially, [that] he didn't get up to
temperature. I remember when he was told that George [Russell] was purple in [the
first sector] and he was seven-tenths off already.
"I think that they panicked, they went onto the Soft tyre and the time was not coming. So he had a bad day in the office, [with] bad decisions really, but they were trying to explore the set-up – it's part of the game."
The Spaniard went on to say that there will always be a point where even the very best stumble, and that Saudi Arabia was a good reminder of that.
"We have seen Lewis, since 2007, always fighting for Q3, the top five, and we think that's going to last forever," he said.
"But, if things are not right, at a demanding track like Jeddah, even the best struggle. This is the beauty of F1. It was unusual, but how well he recovered was also really, really nice to see in the race."
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Hamilton's maturity makes him a great team player
With Mercedes seemingly up against it, with Red Bull and Ferrari currently setting the pace in F1 after two dominant races, de la Rosa said this year could bring out the very best Hamilton has to offer.
"I think that he's proven to be extremely mature," he commented about how Hamilton might respond to an uncompetitive season.
"His reaction to the beginning of the season, how he scored points in both races - even if it's only a 10th - just proves that he's pushing as hard as ever.
"When he made it to the podium in Bahrain, I haven't seen him as happy as that [since] he was World Champion.
"We've seen Lewis win many Grands Prix where he hasn't been as pleased, as happy as he was with the third position in Bahrain. So this just proves that he's a team player."
Hamilton's apology catches de la Rosa's attention
De la Rosa said that it was Hamilton apologising to his team for having failed to make the cut in qualifying that was particularly telling.
"We will see the best out of him during this season, we are seeing a guy that is fighting," he added.
"He's one of the unique drivers, or one of
the only drivers that I've seen, saying, 'I'm sorry', to the team.
A seven-time World Champion apologising to the team after qualifying!
"All I'm saying is that I love racing drivers that are critical with themselves. They are not blaming their equipment every now and then. Lewis is one of them, and he will come back – he's as motivated as ever.
"Imagine that they don't win again this year, for whatever reason. He will still stick with the team and become a great team player."
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RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken,
Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, which was won in dramatic fashion by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.