Juan Pablo Montoya predicts a different version of Lewis Hamilton will emerge in 2023 if Mercedes manages to improve its car, the W14. Hamilton went through an unprecedented winless season in 2022 due to the struggling pace of the Mercedes W13 and issues with porpoising.
According to Montoya, Hamilton’s safe approach to driving prevented him from pushing too hard during last season, but he predicts Hamilton will return to his winning form in 2023 if the car performs well.
Speaking to Motorsports.com, the Colombian addressed Hamilton’s potential with a quick car. On being asked if Hamilton could win in 2023, he said:
“Yes, because last year it was also largely down to the problems Mercedes had with the car. And Lewis is a driver who if there is an opportunity to shine, he will grab it with both hands.
“But when he lies fifth and knows there is no more in it than that, you won’t see him driving like his life depends on it. Then he will just do what it takes to secure that fifth spot.”
When asked if he thinks Lewis Hamilton will beat Russell this season, Montoya responded that the past year was largely due to Mercedes’ car issues, and Hamilton will seize opportunities to shine.
Montoya also stated that Hamilton will drive conservatively when the car cannot perform better, while Russell will drive flat out every race.
“But on the other side of the garage, with George, you have a young driver who goes flat out every race and wants to prove himself every time. However, I expect that if Mercedes has a winning car again, we are going to see a different Lewis.”
Despite earning nine podium finishes, Lewis Hamilton used the first half of the season to test experimental setups while his teammate, George Russell, recorded consecutive top-five finishes. Over the course of the season, Russell outperformed Hamilton and achieved his first pole position and victory in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton hoping to return to the top in 2023
Lewis Hamilton’s prospects in 2023 largely depend on the performance of the W14, which is set to be launched on February 15th ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
Hamilton recently conducted a tire test for Pirelli with Russell at Paul Ricard and will do the same again at Jerez this week. Hamilton’s goal this season is to return to the top of the podium after his winless year, and if the car performs well, few would doubt his ability to compete for the championship.
Montoya predicts a different, more competitive Hamilton to emerge in 2023 if Mercedes manages to improve the performance of its car.
Lewis Hamilton’s chances of defeating Max Verstappen this season will depend on the performance of the W14, and given his form in the second half of 2022 and the potential progress made over the winter, Hamilton is expected to challenge for the championship if he has a competitive car.