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Wolff has ‘no doubt’ Hamilton can compete for championships again with right car

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has backed Lewis Hamilton to deliver his best form again and fight for what would be a record-breaking eighth world title, providing the Silver Arrows can produce a competitive enough car going forward.

Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s championship tally in 2020 and came close to moving one clear during a dramatic 2021 showdown with Max Verstappen, before the switch to ground effect regulations saw Red Bull steal a march on the field – leaving the Briton winless in both 2022 and 2023.

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As his team push to get back to winning ways, Wolff responded to questions that 38-year-old Hamilton, who recently signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes, might be getting despondent about the relative lack of success, saying “the real Lewis” is still very much there.

“From Lewis’ perspective, he had a bad weekend, fact,” Wolff said after the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi, where Hamilton came home a distant ninth. “I think that doesn’t do anything on him being the greatest driver in the world.

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Hamilton has now gone more than two seasons without a Grand Prix win

“If we’re able to give him a car, then he would be fighting for a World Championship, I have no doubt. It’s clear that when you have a Formula 1 car like we have now, you’re never at ease with it – you have good weekends and bad weekends.

“In the end, every time where we’ve seen that Lewis has someone in his target in front of him, and it was about winning the race, then the real Lewis comes alive, and I think we just need to give him that [opportunity].”

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Despite their recent drop off, Mercedes have won eight of the last 10 constructors’ titles, and classified at least third in every season since 2013 – with Wolff offering a philosophical take on the situation the squad find themselves in.

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“We have a board in our factory which shows all the constructors’ championships since 1958,” he continued. “The table goes until 2050, and you have the logos, the badges for each of the years. There [are] 27 open, empty badges, and I would like to look back in 20 years and say, ‘There’s many more Mercedes stars’.

“When you’re retrospective – and I hate retrospective views – but when we look back in 10 or 20 years and we consider that big, big decade it was: second, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, first, third, second.

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“When we look at it from that perspective, we kind of say, ‘That was okay’. Now, from a micro view, there’s one guy that won 19 races [in 2023], so that is, of course, not good enough.”

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