Juan Pablo Montoya has backed Lewis Hamilton to shine if Mercedes can deliver the Brit a winning car in 2023, after Hamilton was beaten by new teammate George Russell in 2022.
However, Montoya – who was indirectly replaced by Hamilton at McLaren for 2007 – also seemed to question Hamilton‘s desire for fighting tooth and nail when there isn’t a podium place on the line.
Mercedes‘ run of fifteen championships in eight years came a screeching halt in 2022 as the W13 only managed one race win, but they’re hopeful they can return to regularly racing at the front in 2023.
“Last year what happened at Mercedes was largely due to the problems the team had with the car,” Montoya told Motorsport Netherlands.
“Lewis is a driver who, if there is an opportunity to shine, he takes it with both hands. If they have a winning car again, we are going to see a different Lewis.”
The inter-team battle at Mercedes was one of the most hotly-anticipated in 2022, with Russell finally stepping up from backmarkers and Hamilton facing real competition from his teammate for the first time since 2016.
It was Russell who beat his teammate by 35 points, and managed Mercedes‘ only win and pole position of the season.
He was a model of consistency and only finished outside the top five on two occasions, while Hamilton only finished in the top five twice in his first four races.
However, as the season progressed Hamilton was generally the stronger Silver Arrow after he sacrificed short-term gain in the early part of the season to help find a direction for Mercedes‘ in-season development.
“When Lewis is fifth and knows there’s no more to it than that, you won’t see him drive like his life depends on it,” Montoya added. “On the other side of the garage, with George, you have a young driver who goes for it every race and wants to prove himself every time.”