Jackie Stewart has questioned Lewis Hamilton‘s hunger for F1 as the Mercedes driver faces an unprecedented barren run of two years without a grand prix victory.
Stewart won three world championships and was the most successful British F1 driver until Hamilton broke that record with his fourth title in 2017 – part of a run of six in seven years.
But Stewart added he expects Hamilton to struggle to expand that collection until he can replicate the hunger from earlier in his career.
“First of all, Lewis is one of the best ever to drive in F1,” Stewart told BILD Magazine. “But the truth is that over the past decade he has raced with Mercedes for a team that was virtually out of contention.
“Lewis had only one real competitor during that time: his teammate, he always emerged victorious from the duel except for 2016.
“And then he lost to Nico Rosberg, with respect: a good driver, but not the most talented in the world. But Rosberg was hungry, had the absolute will to become world champion.
“Lewis no longer has that hunger. That’s why – and because the car is no longer as strong – he has serious problems.”
Stewart: Hamilton will retire at Mercedes
Stewart also said he expects Hamilton to stay at Mercedes for the rest of his career, after he signed a contract extension to the end of the 2025 season when he’ll be on the verge of turning 41.
Asked whether he expects Hamilton to claim another world championship in that spell, Stewart added: “That also depends on Mercedes, it’s not impossible but I still don’t think he’ll make it. And I don’t think – despite the rumours about Ferrari – that he will change teams again.”
And Stewart rubbished accusations that the 2023 F1 season has been boring, with Verstappen only failing to win two races and within a few races of confirming his third successive drivers’ title.
“I don’t find them boring at all, the entertainment factor is gigantic!” Stewart said. “Sure, the championship is decided, but behind it it’s close.
“If Max didn’t have such a good season, there would be a three-way battle between Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Three drivers from three different teams. That’s what the fans want to see.”