Villeneuve claims that we will see ‘best Lewis Hamilton yet’ in 2023

Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes

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Former F1 champion Jacques Villenueve insists we will see the ‘best Lewis Hamilton yet’ in 2023 after a miserable season for the Mercedes driver. Hamilton went an entire season without a race win for the first time in his F1 career in 2022, finishing sixth in the drivers’ standings.

Hamilton’s disastrous campaign was compounded by a mechanical failure in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that forced him to retire. The 37-year-old Brit has seen last year’s rival Max Verstappen cruise to his second world title in a year that has been dominated by Red Bull, while Mercedes have been simply unable to compete. 

George Russell sealed the only race win of the season for the Silver Arrows in Brazil and Hamilton was outscored by a teammate for only the third time in his F1 career as his season ended with exasperation in a lap 56 retirement. 

But Mercedes are determined to avoid another season of Red Bull domination in 2023 as they aim to avoid a hat-trick of Verstappen titles. And seven-time world champion Hamilton has been tipped to channel his frustration and reach new levels in the next campaign.

“Next year I expect a lot from Lewis Hamilton, we are going to see the best Lewis yet,” 1997 champion Villeneuve wrote in his Formule1.nl column. “He ended the season without a pole position or a victory. That will have done something to him, I think. 

“And then things will start to get interesting – Mercedes has been able to improve. We saw that in Brazil. In the opening phase of the race, Lewis rightly had to give back that spot, and he struggled a bit on the mediums. 

“Once he’d changed to the hard tyre, he really flew down the track. It’s a shame for him that his race ended the way it did, with the first mechanical breakdown this season.”

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Hamilton is relieved that the season – that he unsurprisingly described as one of his worst on the grid – is finally over.  “I am very pleased it is over and done with,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “I gave it everything, but ultimately the last race was like my whole season. It summed up my year.

“This year was not the greatest. It is probably up there with the top-three worst seasons, but in terms of how the team stayed united, there have been lots of pluses.”

He added: “I feel like this year, when we got our first fifth, it felt like a win. When we got our first fourth, it felt like a win. When we got our first podium, it felt like a win, and those second places felt as if we really achieved something, so I’ll just hold on to those.”

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