RacingNews365 F1 journalist Dieter Rencken believes that Max Verstappen's pace and form this year is providing a wake-up call that Lewis Hamilton needed, after years of relatively straightforward title campaigns.
Verstappen won his third race in four rounds last time out in Austria, and could have made it four in a row had his tyre not failed while leading comfortably in Azerbaijan with five laps remaining. His ever-increasing championship lead has meant that Lewis Hamilton is in a position that he hasn't been in for years, as that of the hunter.
"I think it's a great lesson for Lewis to be in this kind of position," Rencken told Thomas Maher on the RacingNews365 podcast.
"And, you know, I say that with a totally open mind. I think that Lewis has had it his own way for a long time. And I think it's a very healthy wake up call for him. Ultimately, he is a racer and he does thrive on challenge.
"I think he's now trying to find his limits again. I spoke to him on Sunday morning in the paddock and all I can say he was incredibly friendly and smiley. I think that, during the race, it does get to him. But outside of that, it's not as though he looks as though he's walking under a ladder or seen a black cat too many."
Asked whether Hamilton's relative good mood is down to the fact that the reigning Champion realises that it's not something that's within his control due to the W12 and Mercedes team not quite being a match for the Red Bull, Rencken agreed this may be playing a part.
"I think he realises that Red Bull have got something special. He is, of course, questioning the legality of it but, I mean, that's to be expected," he said.
"Basically, he accepts that they've got something special and that he's doing his utmost. He said as much on Sunday, where he said 'I gave it my best guys. I'm sorry, we got to work harder'."
As for the recent comments from Mercedes where Toto Wolff suggested that no updates were on the way for the W12, Rencken said he agreed with the suspicion from Red Bull that there was some deflection going on.
"I think that Christian Horner said it most succinctly when he said 'We don't really believe that Mercedes won't bring any upgrades'," Rencken explained.
"He said Toto always like to shine the light elsewhere. And I think that this was part of it. Possibly this was a bit of gamesmanship on the part of Toto, who knows, but I doubt that they would have just stopped development on a car at this stage of a crucial World Championship battle."
It's time for the latest episode of our new Formula 1 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discussing Max Verstappen's ever increasing championship lead, and whether Mercedes can turn things around over the next few races..