"Every time when we have seen that Lewis has somebody in his target in front of him and it was about winning the race then the real Lewis comes alive," says the Mercedes team principal; Lewis Hamilton confident Mercedes will have an "exhilarating" journey back to the front in F1
Monday 4 December 2023 16:11, UK
Toto Wolff has "no doubt" that Lewis Hamilton will fight for the F1 world title again when Mercedes provide him the car capable of doing so.
Mercedes, who re-wrote the record books with eight constructors' and seven drivers' titles in a row, have seen their success dry up over the past two seasons with Red Bull and Max Verstappen dominating the sport since the big change in regulations from the start of 2022.
Their struggles have ensured Hamilton, F1's record holder on 103 grands prix victories, has now gone two seasons without a win, with George Russell taking Mercedes' only victory in that time in Brazil in November 2022.
But Wolff has no doubt that seven-time champion Hamilton, who he described as "the greatest driver in the world", will be back at the front when Mercedes are in position to win again.
"If we are able to give him the car, then he will be fighting for a world championship," said the Mercedes team principal after the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
"I have no doubt."
Despite Mercedes' second difficult season in a row, Hamilton produced a strong 2023 campaign personally by delivering third place in the drivers' standings and six of Mercedes' eight podium finishes as the Brackley team saw off Ferrari for second in the Constructors' Championship.
"It's clear that when you have a Formula 1 car like we have now, you are never at ease with it," added Wolff on the W14.
"You have good weekends and bad weekends but at the end every time when we have seen that Lewis has somebody in his target in front of him and it was about winning the race then the real Lewis comes alive.
"We just need to give him a car."
The seven-time champion, who turns 39 in January, will have at least two more attempts to win what would be a record eighth crown after extending his Mercedes contract until the end of 2025 earlier this year.
In a post-Abu Dhabi post on his Instagram account, the Briton said that while 2023 was "not the year we wanted" he was confident Mercedes would return to the front of F1.
"As for the future, myself and the team know we'll be back on top, and we know there's a lot of work to be done to make that happen," he wrote.
"I promise you, getting there will be exhilarating, and seasons like this will make it all the more satisfying when we do. Til next year."
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