Lewis Hamilton will be hard to beat for the 2014 title, according to Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda.
Hamilton’s former McLaren teammate, Jenson Button, this week said that while the 2008 world champion is “super fast”, he is also “very up and down emotionally”.
When Button’s comments were put to Sepang winner Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain grand prix, he admitted: “I would say that is quite accurate.”
Since debuting in 2007, the now 28-year-old Hamilton – amid other turmoil – has dumped his father as his manager, fallen out with another mentor Ron Dennis, and had a famously off and on-again relationship with his popstar girlfriend.
Hamilton told the Independent: “I’ve always talked about trying to put the right pieces in place to get through my year in a positive way without having those spikes, and I feel like I might have found it.
“But you never know!”
If Hamilton has found his happy place, it might be very timely, given the five-year gap since his sole title triumph and the current dominance of the Mercedes package.
Triple world champion Lauda told the Swiss newspaper Blick: “When Lewis is fully focused on his work, he is almost unbeatable.”
Given the potential for title trouble between Hamilton and his Melbourne-winning teammate Nico Rosberg, Lauda’s words could be explosive.
Hamilton and Rosberg’s relationship dates all the way back to their karting days, but as the Briton insisted on Thursday, they are not friends.
“In formula one, we can count our friends on one hand,” said Hamilton. “Nico does not come in the five friends I have and I don’t come in his.”
The relationship could be strained even further if German Rosberg has more races like the one in Sepang, where although he finished second, he was easily beaten by Hamilton.
Asked if the 2014 situation has affected their relationship, Rosberg said: “It has not changed at all. Yet.”
But he admits that could be because the title battle still has so many races – 17 – to run.
Indeed, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was asked on Thursday if he sees Hamilton or Rosberg as the ultimate favourite.
“I think it’s 50 per cent each way,” he is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS, “but there is also Kimi and myself and of course Vettel.”
© RIF | GMM