Mercedes technical chief James Allison says he does not doubt that Lewis Hamilton has the desire and ability to fight for Grand Prix wins again and that the quality of his machinery will be the only possible factor holding him back this coming season.
The seven-time world champion came within one lap of claiming his record-breaking eighth World Championship at the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi before a controversial safety car protocol decision from race director Michael Masi sent the title the way of Max Verstappen.
Since then, Hamilton has been unable to consistently fight for race victories with his winless streak stretching back over two years to the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. This has largely been attributed to the relative struggles of Mercedes, who wasted development time with the ill-fated ‘zeropod’ design concept experiment in 2022 and 2023.
Despite another frustrating campaign last year, Hamilton remains confident that he can fight for World Championships should his team provide him with a car worthy of fighting Verstappen. With Allison and team principal Toto Wolff both recently signing new long-term contracts, it is clear that they believe in Mercedes’ potential over the coming years.
Discussing Hamilton’s state of mind ahead of the new campaign, Allison said: “I think you’d struggle to find a driver anywhere in the grid that wasn’t motivated. I think that sort of comes with the territory with them. And generally speaking, the more successful the drivers have been, the more sort of inescapable that compulsive need to win is.
“In Lewis’s case, it’s just a core part of who he is, so there’s no doubt about his motivation to get back to winning ways. But whether or not he can do that, will be much more in the hands of the equipment we’ve given him than in his own hands. He’s always had that ability there.”
Team principal Wolff certainly believes that his star driver has what it takes to fight at the very pinnacle of F1, despite recently celebrating his 39th birthday. When asked about his title credentials by The Telegraph, he replied: “The answer is clearly yes in capital letters. There is a reason Lewis is a seven-time world champion and has broken all the records.
“His ability is on a different level. If we are able to give him a car that he actually feels, that drives in a way that he can trust, he will be on the level that’s needed to win the championship. 39 is no age.”