Former F1 driver Mark Webber says Lewis Hamilton is once again his outright favourite for the title, the Aussie expecting the Briton and Mercedes to “strip down” their rivals this year.
Mercedes has already staked its claim to a seventh consecutive World championship by domination pre-season testing in Barcelona.
While Valtteri Bottas was the fastest runner at the Circuit de Catalunya for the Silver Arrows outfit, Webber is putting his money on Hamilton equaling in 2020 Michael Schumacher’s record seven crowns.
The mighty Mercedes/Hamilton package will be a tough nut to crack for the pair’s rivals insists the Aussie.
“I think Merc will be too tough for them to handle, operationally and with Lewis,” Webber told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I would love to see Ferrari sitting on the front row. They were very good in qualifying last year, but there are no points in qualifying, you have to put the race together.
“That’s where Mercedes and strategy and Lewis (comes in). It’s the whole thing. They just slowly strip you down.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is among those who ambition to topple F1’s mega star. The Finn will obviously be armed with the same equipment as the Briton, yet Webber doubts Bottas can make it happen.
“Nothing against Valtteri, (but) Hamilton is one of the greats of the sport in the last 70 years. He is a headache for everyone. I don’t know who would be comfortable sitting beside him,” added Webber.
“Lewis is a ginormous, ginormous challenge for anyone. Valtteri is doing what he can, but Hamilton is a big problem for the opposition.
”He’s hungry and he’s still tenacious and he is reinventing himself, and that’s the extraordinary quality he has which is great to watch.”
At 35 and with 13 seasons under his belt, Hamilton is showing no signs of abating. Whether it’s his skills or motivation, the six-time world champion is at the top of his game.
“I think in the middle of his career a few people were worried that it might not be as long a career as could happen,” Webber contended.
“But then he got it really right back together, whether it was under guardianship of (Mercedes chiefs) Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, I would have imagined that had a big bearing on it.
“I know he’s enjoying a much better relationship with his father, which is great. He’s as stable as he’s ever been in his life Monday to Friday, and that’s a reflection then of how he performs.”