Lewis Hamilton has lost his winning edge, former FI boss Bernie Ecclestone believes. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton has lost his winning edge, former FI boss Bernie Ecclestone believes. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Hamilton not the racer he once was

FORMER F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone believes a "fed-up" Lewis Hamilton is no longer the driver he once was.

Hamilton has endured a disappointing start to 2018 - failing to win any of the season's first three races for just the second time in a Mercedes-dominated hybrid era - and  he has also been out-qualified and out-raced by teammate Valtteri Bottas twice.

In China, the four-time world champion was noticeably off-form and unhappy, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting his star driver was not in the "best place".

Ecclestone, who controlled F1 for more than  40 years before Liberty Media's takeover in 2017, claims Hamilton has lost his edge.

"He doesn't seem to be the Lewis that he was before," the 87-year-old told Sky Sports News at the Azerbaijan GP.

"I don't know whether it's me - but when you talk to him and see him act the way he acts generally, he's not the racer he was."

Ecclestone, who has been a staunch defender of Hamilton over the years, added: "He's still very quick, still super talented, still a super nice guy. But maybe he just getting a little bit tired of travelling and he's fed up with things."

Hamilton's Mercedes contract expires at the end of the season, though the Englishman does expect to re-sign - claiming a trip to the US for the Coachella music festival prevented an agreement being reached after the Chinese GP.

While Hamilton has struggled, he is still only nine points off Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings.

Ecclestone also offered his thoughts on a competitive start to the season.

"I thought Lewis would win every race, so I've been proved wrong," he said.

"It would be nice to see Sebastian win because he's a mate of mine and I support him always. So I hope he can get the job done."

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on April 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the second practice session ahead of the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on April 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

 

Former team boss Eddie Jordan believes Hamilton's contract is a distraction.

"If I was his adviser, I'd be saying, 'You know something, Lewis, get this done as soon as possible and if you win the championship for a fifth time, let's see that there is a kicker in there to up the salary. In other words, let Mercedes see that you deserved it'," Jordan said.

"Both parties should get the contract signed because the longer the two prolong the situation, then the loser is going to be both of them.

"Look, Mercedes need to sign him - and you are seeing the effect it is having. Their best chance of winning the championship again this year is with him.

"But Lewis has not shown his flair yet this season. He left Barcelona testing and he seemed happy - but I want to see him winning."

Hamilton is without a win in six GPs but Jordan is expecting a return to the top step of the podium soon.

"I still believe Mercedes have the quickest car and Lewis is the quickest driver. In a few races time, we might be thinking, 'Why were we all concerned?'" he said.

Hamilton got off to a slow start at this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, the scene of his clash with Vettel last season.

Hamilton was only fourth quickest in first practice and was eclipsed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who topped the time sheets.

And in the second session, Hamilton dropped down to fifth behind Red Bull's Aussie pacesetter Daniel Ricciardo.

- Sky Sports, The Sun


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