It’s all about Hamilton, Ecclestone has criticized the Mercedes drivers for their approach to racing in 2023

“With Lewis Hamilton, the Best is a Bit Off”: Mercedes Lineup Faces Fire, While Max Verstappen is Set as the Benchmark

"With Lewis Hamilton, the Best is a Bit Off": Mercedes Lineup Faces Fire, While Max Verstappen is Set as the Benchmark

Credits: Imago |L: Lewis Hamilton George Russell R: Max Verstappen

Following a season full of ups and downs for Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, former F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone has come forward to downplay the performances of both drivers. Quoted in a report by F1 Maximaal, Ecclestone fires shots at the Mercedes drivers for their approach to racing in 2023 while praising Max Verstappen for being the “benchmark in every area.”

“With Lewis Hamilton, the best is a bit off, and George Russell was also not as good as he thought about himself”, said Ecclestone.

Ecclestone praised Red Bull‘s patient wait of eight years to ride out the era of Mercedes’ dominance and pounce on them when they showed the first sign of weakness. He further accredited the team’s success to the skills of Max Verstappen. “Max [Verstappen] is currently the benchmark in every area. You can also put him in a McLaren and probably also in a Ferrari or a Mercedes, and he will still win.”

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Ecclestone believes Hamilton will not be a challenger for the title yet again. Instead, he pointed out the younger talents to fight for the championship against Verstappen. The 93-year-old Briton believes Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell could be up to the task.

Toto Wolff confident Lewis Hamilton can still fight for the championship

While Ecclestone no longer considers the 7-time world champion a title contender, the Mercedes team principal has a different belief. Per Wolff, Hamilton is the “greatest driver in the world,” and he can still win a championship, provided Mercedes put him in a car capable of winning races.

2023 was far from an ideal season for Mercedes, given they failed to win a single race throughout, and despite finishing in P2 in the constructors’ standings, they had less than half the points than Red Bull.

Meanwhile, Hamilton fared much better in the individual rankings, securing six of his team’s eight podiums and securing P3 in the drivers’ standings. Wolff added that having a car such as the W14 at their disposal, a team is “never at ease.” One week can be incredible, and the other can be equally dismal in the same car. As such, Mercedes must come up with a car that can deliver on each race day.

With two more years on his contract, Hamilton has a couple of chances to secure title no. 8. However, there are chances the Brackley-based team might house the Briton for one or two more years, as often suggested by the words of Wolff.

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