F1: Mario Andretti not willing to write off Hamilton yet

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Mario Andretti believes Lewis Hamilton can still win F1 races and maybe even an 8th F1 title if he can get himself into a car capable of winning.

Last year, and so far in 2023, Red Bull is eating everyone’s lunch, so Hamilton and all the other drivers have to inhale their Honda exhaust fumes all race long.

Even Hamilton’s teammate George Russell is beating Hamilton leading some to think either Hamilton just never had a good teammate until now, or Hamilton is past his prime and on his way down.

Speaking to PlanetF1.com in an exclusive interview, 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti said that he doesn’t believe Hamilton’s powers are dimming, but that he is merely struggling to adjust to life with a less competitive car after spending most of his career in front-running machinery.

“I don’t think Hamilton is past his peak,” he said.

“But the difference between him and George Russell is that Russell has never driven a car that is as competitive as the Mercedes.

“And Lewis Hamilton has never driven a car that’s as uncompetitive as Mercedes is at the moment. Lewis has always had the blessing of being with an extremely competitive car. Look at the McLaren times, when McLaren was at its peak – there he was. Now he has to fight a little bit harder to achieve what was easier to achieve.

“So he’s having a tough time just really getting that last bit out of it, whereas George has never really experienced a car just as strong that’s still able to run up front. So there’s the difference – you can draw your own conclusions, but I wouldn’t write off Lewis by any means at this stage.”

Andretti is hopeful that he doesn’t make the mistake of overstaying his welcome to the point where that decision is taken away from him.

“This is a really difficult situation,” he said.

“I know that I can only speak for myself – I love the sport so much that, if it was just for the love of it, I feel that I’d still be driving actively!

“Here’s my fear. I had seen some of my peers overstay, and maybe have not the best memories of their last times in the sport. I was really trying to, in my own mind, ask ‘When is it time? I don’t want to!’ but, you know, I wanted to have a positive memory of my last moments, my last seasons in the sport, and to know that I was still competitive and I still had a chance.

“It’s a personal thing, just how you look at it. From Lewis’ standpoint, I’m sure that he would love to have another championship under his belt and then say goodbye.

“Whether that’s in the cards or not, I don’t know. You can say, ‘Yeah, you should do this, you should do that’. But it’s up to the individual, to see how you’re looking at things and how you feel and all that.”


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