Lewis Hamilton dramatically missed out on a record eighth Formula one title last year when he was dethroned by Max Verstappen in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes official Toto Wolff has dismissed a suggestion Lewis Hamilton is in decline and says the seven-time Formula One (F1) champion has proved he is a “genius” this season.
Lewis Hamilton dramatically missed out on a record eighth F1 title last year when he was dethroned by Max Verstappen in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
The Briton is languishing in sixth place in the driver standings eight races into the 2022 season, with his team-mate George Russell fourth.
Mercedes sit third in the constructor standings, 108 points adrift of leaders Red Bull, and Hamilton suffered back pain due to his rattling car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.
Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, does not believe Hamilton’s high standards have slipped this year.
“No, I don’t think it’s like that. He is the best that has ever been,” he said when asked if Lewis Hamilton is in decline.
“Between Abu Dhabi in 2021, dominating the last third of the season, to four months later, you are not losing your ability.”
He added: “How they appear to me, both of them [Russell and Hamilton], it’s very professional.
“They have been given a car that is a bit sub-par, each of them tries to develop the car further, they have both gone [in] a different set-up direction, Lewis [during qualifying in Azerbaijan] again very experimental, but can be available in the long term.
“I think as long as the car is not good enough to really be racing at the front, the differences are small and I don’t think you can have a pattern saying ‘George is continuously outperforming Lewis’ or the other way around.”
Wolff pinpointed Hamilton’s recovery from making contact with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix to finish fifth as an example of Hamilton’s brilliance.
“He went as far as to say that in Barcelona, where Hamilton recovered from early contact with Kevin Magnussen to finish P5, the genius,” he said.
“We have seen Lewis in Barcelona, he was the genius that we know, so I think what I enjoy is them working together and trying to bring the car back to the front.”