Lewis Hamilton is one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers in history, but over the last two years, he has not been able to compete for victories and World Championships.
Since the introduction of new technical regulations at the start of 2022, Mercedes has been unable to challenge runaway leaders Red Bull and Max Verstappen, sometimes to the Briton's frustration.
Rudy van Buren, a sim driver at Red Bull and active in autocross, believes that the seven-time World Champion still has the desire, but also highlighted that things have not always gone his way this year.
"At times we saw the old Lewis, in terms of how he drove," Van Buren told RacingNews365. "There were races where he was strong, but on the other side of the coin, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was another case.
“In the first free practice there was a rookie driving his car, in the second practice he didn't get to drive (due to red flags interruptions), in the third practice he hit the mark and he continued that line all weekend.
“He was not as fast as George Russell. We've seen that the other way around, of course."
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But what is that fluctuating performance down to?
"The car seems very specific in terms of balance,” Van Buren said. “They never get the car right for either driver. One of them goes well and the other not at all.
“I keep saying it with Lewis: when the weekend falls right for him, we immediately see the old Lewis again who is motivated. Then sometimes he speaks a bit over the radio, but he's on top of it. But the Lewis in Abu Dhabi said, 'there's no speed in that thing.'
"He seemed a little resigned then. Then again we hear Toto Wolff saying over the radio, 'Lewis, you're the fastest on the track.' That's to get motivation into him.
“Sometimes that's a shame, you expect to see a fighter at times. It's a tendency you see throughout the year. I hope for his sake that the car is better for next year.
“We've mostly heard him say that the current car doesn't suit him. Maybe he can show it in 2024, when the car does suit him."
Mercedes has already announced that the W15 will be a revolutionary car. Does Van Buren think they will be competing for the title in 2024?
"It's still Formula 1, so it's possible. Miracles are not yet out of the equation and I hope they are there. A battle at the front is the best thing for all of us.
“They shout it so loudly these days: 'we can't wait for the W15'. You see those terms popping up everywhere and I just think 'bring it on.'"